COVID Recovery Package is a Downpayment on Paid Leave and Paid Sick Days

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

“Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have shown a steadfast commitment to supporting American workers and those who have become unemployed during the pandemic. While the bill that was passed today includes a number of critical investments - such as extending unemployment, protecting those who are behind on rent and shoring up support for child care facilities - we are deeply disappointed that some members of Republican leadership stood in the way of extending paid sick days and paid family and medical leave, despite widespread support across the political spectrum. And despite evidence that paid leave flattens the curve.

“The COVID-19 relief bill offers only a limited continuation of support for employers who do the right thing by allowing their workers to take paid time off, and it fails to extend the guarantee of emergency leave to some 87 million workers amid the worsening public health crisis and continued school closures. This would leave out frontline workers such as grocery store and retail workers, gig workers and so many more who continue to provide critical services.”

“Ensuring workers can take time off to recover from an illness or take care of a loved one is widely supported by businesses and voters. Moreover, it is women and people of color who are least likely to have access to paid leave and paid sick days through an employer but more likely to be forced to decide between work and family responsibilities.

“This bill should be viewed as simply a downpayment. We are optimistic that under President-elect Biden’s leadership, the incoming Administration will prioritize establishing national paid family and medical leave and paid sick days policies, which are critical to the nation’s public health and our economic recovery.”

Background on the COVID-19 Recovery Package:

The package would not extend the requirement for employers to provide emergency paid sick leave and paid family leave. It would instead allow employers and self-employed individuals to claim tax credits for voluntarily provided emergency paid leave that is provided through March 31, 2021.

Under this relief deal, employers are not required to comply with an anti-retaliation provision in providing either paid sick leave or paid family leave, but that they must do so in order to qualify for the tax credit. The bill updates the description of emergency paid sick leave and paid family leave tax credit-eligible wages to include wages which would be so required as if:

  • the sunset dates of those sections were extended to March 31, 2021
  • paid sick time could be carried over from one year to the next

The full text of the bill is available here. The details on the extension of paid leave credits are in Division N, page 110, Section 286 (in the linked bill text, it may be page 2033 out of the entire document).

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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