Paid Go away Inches Forward in States, as Congress Avoids a Mandate

The latest Covid-19 stimulus package is unlikely to provide a federal mandate on paid vacation – despite proponents who see it as a powerful public health boost – leaving the issue for now to cities and states where such mandates continue to slowly but surely spread .

The $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package proposed by President Joe Biden initially included a revival and expansion of last year’s mandate for employers to provide paid vacation-related holidays. However, the stimulus laws pending in the U.S. House of Representatives disregard this requirement and instead opt to extend federal tax credits for employers who offer voluntary paid emergency leave, just as Congress did with the stimulus package passed in December.

The omission of mandate from the House bill, published Feb. 19, was good news for entrepreneurs concerned that additional government regulations could affect their economic viability in the pandemic. However, for advocates of paid vacation schemes, this is an unexpected setback.

“It’s a surprise when it comes to the current state of Congress,” said Jared Make, vice president of the left-wing political group A Better Balance. “We just tagged 500,000 people who have died from Covid-19, and people across the country continue to die every day. The fact that there is no federal right to paid sick leave for workers in this country is particularly shameful right now. “

He pointed to research showing that wider availability of paid sick leave slows the spread of infectious diseases. A study by the nonprofit group Health Affairs estimated that the availability of paid emergency vacation last year prevented more than 400 Covid-19 cases per day in every state where workers received newly paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Democrats push for politics

In a letter Tuesday, 98 members of the Democratic House – led by Reps Ayanna Pressley from Massachusetts and Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut – urged Biden and the Congress leadership to include a permanent paid vacation policy in a future round of economic recovery legislation while their current $ 1.9 trillion approved package is unlikely to require a paid vacation.

Given the tight Senate scrutiny, Democrats have doubts as to whether this mandate can be considered sufficiently budgetary to pass under the Senate budget reconciliation that would allow Democrats to pass the stimulus package without Republican support.

According to the March 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics, millions of workers did not have access to paid vacation before the pandemic. Almost a quarter of those employed in the private sector had no paid sick leave for short-term illnesses and 80% had no paid family leave to care for a newborn or a family member with serious health problems.

A combination of government mandates and voluntary benefit offerings announced by large employers indicated improved access over the past year, albeit mainly through temporary pandemic responses. Workers advocates hope to seize the moment of the pandemic as an opportunity to advance not only emergency response but also demands for permanent paid vacation, if not through Congress then through state lawmakers.

Colorado and New York State issued both emergency and long-term illness mandates last year, bringing the number to 15 states and the District of Columbia with these requirements.

Momentum in New Mexico, Maryland

State and local legislative action regarding paid vacation was relatively calm in 2021, although many states are still in the early stages of the legislative process. More than 30 cities and states issued emergency mandates in response to the pandemic last year.

Still, corporate groups like the National Federation of Independent Business are threatened with new or expanded mandates in a handful of states, including Maryland and New Mexico, said Tim Goodrich, NFIB executive director for government relations.

“A lot of invoices were introduced. Only a few are moving that I know of, ”said Goodrich. “Companies are trying to stay afloat and another mandate is not a good thing. For the most part, people hear this message. “

Two bills first approved in the New Mexico House committees would require employers to show paid sick days (HB 20) and paid family and sick leave (HB 38).

This is a particularly worrying condition for business lawyers, Goodrich said. New Mexico is among the most restrictive economies in terms of continued business closings and capacity limits, making it difficult for companies to survive.

“This will be a tough pill when it’s over,” he said of New Mexico paid vacation legislation.

A new coalition of community groups in Delaware announced a campaign to advance paid family and medical leave legislation at this meeting through legislation expected to be tabled next month.

“The pandemic has shown that this type of policy is urgent and necessary for families in trouble right now,” said Liz Richards, executive director of the new Delaware Cares Coalition. “People face impossible choices between their job and their family.”

Maryland lawmakers are considering a proposal to provide hazard allowances, paid sick days, and other health and safety measures and benefits in declared states of emergency for “essential workers,” defined as any worker whose work cannot be remotely done or needs to be performed on site . The accompanying invoices SB 486 and HB 581 are both still pending and will expand the state’s existing requirements for paid leave.

“This is one that we’re aggressively working on right now,” said Goodrich.

Maryland Republican governor Larry Hogan had previously vetoed mandates in the workplace, but Democratic majority lawmakers voted to override it in some cases, as was the case with a 2019 measure, to be gradual introduce a minimum wage of USD 15 per hour.

Paid vacation lawyers in Virginia face another disappointing session after the state Senate blocked paid sick leave legislation last year. A 2021 bill, HB 2137, that proposed mandating paid sick leave for essential workers was scaled back this week in the Senate committee to cover only home health workers.

Aside from new mandate proposals, states like California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts are considering expanding their existing paid vacation requirements in response to the pandemic, Make said.

As early as 2021, at least 10 California cities and counties renewed or expanded the emergency ordinances, which they first enacted as temporary measures in 2020.

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