Congress Must Pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act As-Introduced

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families

“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as introduced on March 11, 2020, is critical legislation that will help support the health and economic security of America’s workers, families and businesses in this time of crisis.

The spread of coronavirus has exposed the failure of our country to ensure working people have adequate time away from work to care for themselves and their loved ones. Those harmed most by this failure are more likely to be women of color, workers with lower incomes, and individuals who work in service industries and are therefore more vulnerable to contagion.

In the United States, more than a quarter of private sector workers cannot earn paid sick days and only 19 percent of workers have paid family leave through an employer, leaving tens of millions to choose between their health and a job when illness strikes. During a pandemic, this is an economic and public health catastrophe in the making.

The Families First Act would provide emergency paid sick days and paid leave, and would extend the use of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for public health emergencies. It would also provide critical coverage for parents and caregivers in the event that schools and other facilities are closed. These measures will help workers, businesses and our health care system. The bill also would also go further by enacting a permanent paid sick days standard, ensuring that our nation is healthier, more economically secure, and prepared and protected in the event of future crises.

Evidence from around the country shows that when working people have dedicated time to care it helps to reduce contagion and promotes better health outcomes. We applaud Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Patty Murray for authoring the original paid sick days provisions in this bill, and Speaker Pelosi for her leadership. We urge Congress to pass and the president to sign this bill immediately. ”

About the National Partnership

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

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