American companies no longer to pay sick leave to people with Covid
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) opens the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on December 20, 2020 ((Getty Images)).
U.S. companies no longer have to give employees infected with coronavirus sick leave after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an extension of the policy.
At the start of the U.S. pandemic in March, Congress passed law allowing employees to request two weeks of paid sick leave if they contracted Covid-19.
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The legislation also provided for two weeks of paid vacation to care for a relative who was quarantined after completing Covid-19 and ten weeks of paid family vacation to care for a child whose school or daycare was closed due to the pandemic.
The requirement was not universal as companies with more than 500 employees were exempt from providing paid vacation, while companies with fewer than 50 employees could apply for an exemption.
However, as part of the first coronavirus aid package agreed by Congress on Sunday since spring, the mandate for paid vacation has not been extended, according to Buzzfeed News.
Both Republican and Democratic congressional assistants told Buzzfeed that the paid vacation extension was being removed from the law as a concession to Mr. Mcconnell, the senior Republican in the Senate, who had urged him not to be accepted.
Despite the end of the mandate, the bill extends a refundable tax credit that subsidizes the cost of paying sick leave until the end of March 2021.
However, claiming this subsidy is optional for companies, which means that after completing Covid-19, U.S. employees will no longer automatically be eligible for paid sick leave.
Congress passed the long-awaited relief bill on Monday evening, which is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
A Republican Senate adviser told Buzzfeed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the oldest Democrat in Congress, reached an agreement on the aid deal on Saturday night because it did not include the mandate.
The aide said she kept trying to add it the next day but ended up settling for the tax credits.
A recent health study found that paid sick leave reduced the spread of Covid-19 in the U.S. and projected its extension to be between $ 8 billion (£ 5.9 billion) and $ 13 billion (£ 9.6 billion) Billion GBP). That figure is roughly 1 percent of the $ 900 billion (£ 669.9 billion) deal that closed on Monday.
Democratic lawmakers will continue to push for paid sick leave and hope to pass another coronavirus relief treaty after President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
Senator Patty Murray, the senior Democrat on the Senate Health Committee, told Buzzfeed, "Companies can use these tax credits to give their workers paid sick leave, and I hope they do - but it is nowhere near enough."
The Senator added, "This crisis has made clearer than ever why paid vacation is so important to every worker for families, communities and our entire economy."
There are now more than 18 million people in the United States who have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The death toll has reached 319,466.
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