TIME’S UP: Coronavirus Highlights Need for National Paid Sick Leave

Changing Laws & Policy, Equity, Federal Policy, Safety

As the coronavirus called COVID-19 threatens the health of people and economies around the globe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised workers to stay home from work if they are sick. However, the United States is one of only two OECD countries in the world that does not guarantee workers paid leave for personal illness.

Tina Tchen, president and CEO of TIME’S UP Now, responded with the following statement, calling on Congress to pass the Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal Family Care Act:

“The United States is facing a public health emergency that demands an immediate, thorough, and effective response, including businesses and workers heeding the CDC’s public health guidance for sick workers to stay home. Yet at least 32 million U.S. workers – including nurses, caregivers, and those in food service who work directly with the public – do not have access to a single paid sick day.

“The lack of paid sick days in the United States hurts all working families; however, the impact is felt most acutely by women, particularly women in low-wage jobs and women of color. More than half of Latinas and one-third of black women do not have the option to take paid time off when they are sick and seven out of 10 workers in low-paid jobs do not have paid sick days.

“The inadequacy of U.S. policies to protect workers, like paid sick days, is morally wrong, and a driver of our nation’s gender and racial inequities. As the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates, it’s also dangerous, putting all of us at greater risk during public health emergencies. Congress must pass legislation that immediately and permanently provides all working people with paid sick days, no matter how long they have worked for an employer or the size of their employer. Hourly and part-time workers should get these protections, too.

“The need for national paid sick leave isn’t new – but it’s as urgent as ever. No one should fall into financial ruin or experience hardship simply because they need to take time off from work to care for a new child, tend to an ill family member, recover from an injury – or help stop the spread of the coronavirus.”


TIME’S UP™ Now is the nonpartisan and not-for-profit advocacy arm of TIME’S UP. We advocate for safe, fair, and dignified work for all in the public and private sectors, calling for an end to harassment and other related forms of discrimination on the job. And we fight to rebuild the systems that have taken away women’s power for far too long. TIME’S UP Now is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization.