Yesterday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) released an Essential Workers Bill of Rights to provide much-needed support for workers who are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. The Bill of Rights includes a call to enact the PAID Leave Act (Providing Americans Insured Days of Leave Act), which would establish universal, comprehensive paid sick days and paid family and medical leave.
Erika L. Moritsugu, vice president for Economic Justice for the National Partnership for Women & Families, said: “We applaud Senator Warren and Representative Ro Khanna for recognizing the urgent need to support the millions of workers including domestic workers, food service workers, grocery store cashiers and farmworkers and many others who are on the frontline as they continue to provide essential services and deliver critical goods to people across the country.
“While the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and Families First Coronavirus Response Act took an important first step to expand access to paid sick days and paid leave, gaps in access further perpetuate racial inequities for women of color, who are more likely to be in frontline positions. Both bills do little to address the needs of disabled individuals and domestic violence victims. Advancing the Essential Workers Bill of Rights and the PAID Leave Act will ensure workers in the most at-risk positions can take the time off they need to care for themselves or a family member.”
Women of color are the least likely to have access to critical employer benefits, including paid sick days and paid leave. At the same time, due to systemic racism, women of color make up more than their fair share in low-paid, public-facing occupations with few benefits. For example, among the more than 2 million workers employed as nursing and home health aides, 88 percent are women, more than one-third (37 percent) are Black and more than 1 in 6 are Latinx. Moreover, nearly a quarter-million people are employed as nurse practitioners and the vast majority are women; about 1 in 8 are Black and about 1 in 10 are Asian American Pacific Islanders.
Last week, the National Partnership sent a letter to House and Senate leadership asking Congress to close gaps in the paid sick days and paid leave provisions created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The organization provided guidance on its priorities for paid leave and paid sick days protections as Congress considers future coronavirus response legislation.
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.