Employers Will No Longer Be Required To Give Paid Leave To Workers With Covid-19
In March, Congress guaranteed workers up to two weeks of fully paid sick leave if they received COVID-19. The program expires on January 1st. (Photo: Glowimages via Getty Images)
Starting January 1, employers will no longer have to give workers with COVID-19 or workers with the virus two weeks of paid vacation.
Congress is letting the guarantee for paid vacation with coronavirus expire at the end of the month without an extension. The $ 900 billion aid package, approved late Monday, extends the tax credit for employers offering paid vacation until March. This means that the federal government pays the sick leave for another three months, but the companies no longer have to offer it.
In March, Congress guaranteed workers up to two weeks of fully paid sick leave if they received COVID-19. The program also provides two weeks of paid leave for those caring for someone who needs to be quarantined and ten weeks of emergency childcare leave when schools or childcare facilities are closed, which pays two-thirds of a worker's regular salary becomes. Employers received a refundable tax credit to cover the cost of paying sick leave.
Democrats hoping to extend the paid vacation mandate to the New Year as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country found an ally in Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who negotiated existing policies with Pelosi in March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Is said to have been the biggest obstacle, Buzzfeed News first reported, along with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), The retired Senate Chairman for Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee and a close confidante of McConnell. Two sources confirmed to HuffPost that McConnell, with the assistance of Alexander, was the main legislature blocking the extension. Their offices did not respond to requests for comment.
Mnuchin told Pelosi that Republicans believed that a mandate renewal would put politics on a path to permanence that they wanted to block, according to a senior Democratic adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity to forward the private talks . Republicans were generally reluctant to accept "new business mandates," said another Democratic adviser.
Alexander's opposition to the mandate is a little more nuanced. In a statement to Buzzfeed, Alexander said the paid vacation requirement places an undue financial burden on state and local governments who are not eligible for federal government reimbursement but are still required to guarantee vacation. This is a catch in the program that could be resolved with more funding from state and local governments, but Republicans were vehemently against it even in negotiations.
However, the Republican opposition to full paid vacation isn't as isolated. GOP senators have been criticizing the paid vacation mandate since it was passed in March, calling it too burdensome for small businesses that would have to wait too long to receive their tax credits.
"While it may sound good that all employers have to pay for sick leave, we need to consider the unintended consequences of this legislation," Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) Said in a March statement. "My fear is that the House bill will not exacerbate the problem, but will force small businesses to pay wages they cannot afford and help them go into debt."
Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Said she will continue to fight for paid sick leave after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. (Photo: Caroline Brehman via Getty Images)
Ultimately, the Democrats conceded on this issue.
"Companies can use these tax credits to give their workers paid sick leave, and I hope they do - but it is nowhere near enough," added Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), The top Democrat on HELP Committee added that she would fight for determination once President-elect Joe Biden took office. "This crisis has made clearer than ever why paid vacation is so important to every worker for families, communities and our entire economy."
According to the current status of the Coronavirus paid vacation mandate, many employees are already excluded. The mandate excludes companies with more than 500 employees that exclude millions of frontline workers, such as those in large grocery chains. Now the program is getting even weaker as employers can opt for a voluntary program until March.
Health professionals are concerned that voluntary paid vacation companies are denying paid sick leave and increasing the risk of COVID-19 spreading to communities.
"I worry that working people with employers who do not want to give paid leave cannot quarantine or care for their children when necessary." That approach puts all power in the hands of employers, ”tweeted Vicki Shabo, Senior Fellow at New America and paid vacation expert, this week.
The paid leave mandate has proven to be an effective public health measure. As Emily Peck of HuffPost wrote, a recent study found that paid emergency vacation was due to preventing 400 coronavirus cases per day per state, or 15,000 cases per day in the United States.
Paid vacation activists have already spoken out against the omission in the final bill.
"This is because the Senate majority leader favored partisan policies and corporate meal deductions over working people's lives and livelihoods," said Wendy Chun-Hoon, executive director of Family Values @ Work, a grassroots group that advocates Paid leave inserts an aid package statement. "The voluntary action of employers has left the US as an outlier in the world and contributed to the catastrophic spread of this pandemic."
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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