Threat of Coronavirus Needs Comprehensive Response, Including Paid Sick Days

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

We are pleased to see that Congress has taken action to provide critical resources to address the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, but the emergency funding bill passed by the House and Senate are only a first step toward preparing the United States for this and any future outbreaks.

We urge Congress to pass emergency legislation that immediately provides all working people — no matter how long they have worked for an employer or the size of their employer — with paid sick days to satisfy quarantine recommendations put forward by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Paid sick days allow an employee to take care of themselves or a loved one. Access to paid sick days — in the case of a pandemic, flu, common cold or other short-term ailment is an equity issue. We know that 93 percent of the highest paid workers have access to paid sick days and only 30 percent of the lowest-paid workers have this critical protection. Latinx and Black workers are less likely than white or Asian American workers to have any workplace leave benefits.

The coronavirus is shining a spotlight on an issue that has hurt working people and families for far too long. In a moment of crisis, Congress should not be scrambling to compensate for a lack of basic protections. This is a matter of equity, decency and public health. Members of Congress should support and pass the Healthy Families Act, a national paid sick days standard that would provide all working people with time to recover and care for their loved ones without risking a job or paycheck.”

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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