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American Workers to Receive Paid Sick Leave

President signs law allowing workers affected by COVID-19 to stay home without financial loss

March 20, 2020

American workers who are quarantined, ill, or caring for family members due to the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to receive paid sick leave after the U.S. Senate passed a coronavirus stimulus bill and President Trump signed it into law, CNN reports.

The new law applies to full-time employees in companies with 500 or less workers, New York Post reports.  Businesses with fewer than 50 employees can apply for an exemption.

The original bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week and would have required employers to allow workers to accrue up to seven days’ paid leave, and an automatic 14 days if there is a public health emergency. However, the bill was rejected by Republican lawmakers, who agreed mandatory paid sick leave is a good idea but believe it should be paid for by the government, rather than by businesses. So, on Monday the House approved a set of changes to the legislation which scaled back their efforts to offer millions of Americans paid sick leave and family leave. This change cleared the path for the Senate to consider then approve the bill.

The revised legislation will still provide many workers with up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they are being tested or treated for coronavirus or have been diagnosed with it. Those told by a doctor or government official to stay home because of COVID-19 exposure or symptoms will also be eligible.

Under the revised bill, however, the payments are capped at US$511 a day. Workers with family members affected by coronavirus and those whose children’s schools were closed will receive up to two-thirds of their pay, up to $200 a day.

The original measure called for workers to receive their full pay but limited federal reimbursement to employers. Businesses, particularly small employers, had raised concerns that they could not afford to offer such benefits, even if they would be reimbursed by the federal government through quarterly tax credits.

 

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