Paid Leave: Congress’s Demonstration of Competence Under Fire in Paid Parental Leave

During any public health emergency, bold and swift action is essential to protecting the physical health and financial security of Americans. Congress and the Administration have come together to enact a wide variety of policies aimed at stimulating the economy and supporting working families—including new policies around sick and family paid leave. Today, 69 percent of America’s lowest-wage private sector workers have no access to paid sick days, compared to only six percent of highest-wage earners. And, more than 40 percent of service-sector workers have no access to a single paid sick day. Additionally, only 19 percent of American workers have access to a defined paid family leave benefit. And, only six percent of workers with earnings in the lowest ten percent of weekly wages have access to paid family leave, while 34 percent of workers with earnings in the highest ten percent of weekly wages have access to paid family leave. 

Without paid leave, many Americans, when faced with an illness or caregiving challenges, find themselves in an untenable situation: they are unable to stay home and get well or meet their caregiving responsibilities because they can’t afford to take time off or even worse lose their job.  

Small business owners also face daunting choices. Unlike larger employers, small businesses are much more vulnerable to changes in their own workforce as well as a public health emergency.  BPC commends Congress for the tireless, bipartisan work that went into passing both the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the historic CARES Act. For the first time, these Acts provide access to paid sick and family leave to many workers.   

As employers and workers continue to struggle to meet the current crisis caused by COVID-19, BPC encourages policymakers to consider long-term paid family leave solutions that enable workers to care for themselves and their families and allow small business owners to remain competitive.   

To learn more about paid sick and family leave under these new Acts, see The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What it Does for American Workers Who Desperately Need Paid Leave.