While Democrats might take a bow for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s coronavirus bill, the legislation only guarantees paid sick leave for 20% of American workers, according to an op-ed by The New York Times.
“The bill does require some employers to provide full-time workers with up to 10 days of paid leave,” the Times editorial board wrote. “But the requirement does not apply to the nation’s largest employers — companies with 500 or more workers, who together employ roughly 54% of all workers.
“The legislation also provides some compensation for workers who need to take longer leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act — but this too excludes workers at big companies.
“And the bill allows the Labor Department to grant hardship exemptions to businesses with fewer than 50 employees. That category includes another 26% of the work force, meaning that fully 80% of workers may not be able to cash in on Ms. Pelosi’s rhetoric.”
Pelosi “neglected to mention the fine print,” and House Democrats “failed to act in the public interest,” according to the board.
“Paying sick workers to stay at home is both good policy and good politics,” the editorial read. “Why not pass a bill that required all employers to provide paid sick leave and then force Republicans to explain their objections to the public?”
Also, this bill only provides some support for paid sick leave for this pandemic and not future ones, “a contemptible signal that political leaders are already committed to not learning the lessons of this one,” the Times wrote.
The Times does admit big companies already give paid sick leave, 86% of their workers, according to federal statistics.
“Companies should be required to provide paid sick leave to every worker as a standard cost of doing business, and they certainly should be required to do so in the midst of a pandemic,” the Times board concluded.
“The House’s failure to require universal paid sick leave is an embarrassment that endangers the health of workers, consumers and the broader American public.”