55 Organizations Call for Passage and Fast Implementation of Paid Sick Leave for all Workers as a Critical Part of COVID-19 Response


(Washington, DC) – A cross-sector group of 55 public health, health, labor, business and social policy organizations are jointly calling on the Trump Administration and Congress to pass and quickly implement a federal paid sick leave law that provides 14 days of such leave to all workers, available immediately upon declaration of a public health emergency. Fourteen days aligns with the currently recommended quarantine period for COVID-19. Furthermore, and beyond the COVID-19 response, the coalition recommends that the new law require all employers, regardless of their size, to allow workers to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave for use when they or a family member is ill or for preventative care.

The group is also proposing tax relief or interest free loans to be made available for small businesses that provide sick leave benefits during a public health emergency and that employees be allowed to take leave if schools or places of employment close due to a public health emergency. Furthermore, employees should be allowed to use leave to care for family members and should be protected from job loss or any other forms of reprisal if they comply with public health or medical advice to stay home.

Multiple health studies have found that the absence of paid sick leave has been linked to or has exacerbated infectious disease outbreaks in the past. In dealing with the current novel coronavirus, the experience of other countries indicates that aggressive social distancing measures can help slow the spread of the virus. Yet for the 34 million individuals who do not have access to paid sick leave, staying at home may not be a realistic option. Many individuals without paid sick time earn low wages, and a disproportionate percentage work in the service industry. Just 30 percent of low-wage workers in the private sector have access to paid sick leave, compared to 93 percent of higher-wage workers.

“Everyone has a role to play in managing the COVID-19 outbreak. Immediate passage and fast implementation of a national paid sick leave law will allow all workers to follow the directions of their communities’ public health officials. It is critical to mitigation efforts that people be able to stay home from work if they are sick or if they may have been exposed to the virus without facing the impossible choice of their health or their financial stability,” said John Auerbach, President and CEO of Trust for America’s Health.

A letter outlining the recommended policy actions was delivered today to Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA), and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Organizations signing-on to the letter were:

American Lung Association
American Medical Student Association
American Public Health Association
American School Health Association
American Sexual Health Association
American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, George Washington University
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Association for Prevention Teaching and Research
Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology
Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs
Association of Public Health Laboratories
Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health
Center for Global Health Science and Security Georgetown University
Center for Public Policy Priorities
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Children’s Environmental Health Network
Clean Habitat Inc
Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials
Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists
de Beaumont Foundation
Florida Institute for Health Innovation
Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security
Green & Healthy Homes Initiative
Health Resources in Action
HIV Medicine Association
Immunize Nevada
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Liver Health Initiative
March of Dimes
National Association of County and City Health Officials
National Association of School Nurses
National Coalition of STD Directors
National Council of Jewish Women
National Fragile X Foundation
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
National Network of Public Health Institutes
National Organization for Women
NW Unangax Culture
NYU School of Global Public Health
Peggy Lillis Foundation
People’s Action
Prevention Institute
Public Health Institute
Public Health Solutions
Rollins School of Public Health
Safe States Alliance
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Society for Public Health Education
Sumner M Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness
Trust for America’s Health
Washington State Department of Health
Washington State Public Health Association
Women’s Law Project

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Trust for America’s Health is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes optimal health for every person and community and makes the prevention of illness and injury a national priority.  Twitter: @healthyamerica1