Coronavirus: Who gets paid sick leave in the US?

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, attention has turned to workers' rights and emergency paid sick leave in the US. On Wednesday, an emergency sick leave bill introduced by Democrats to the Senate, attempting to give every worker 14 days' paid sick leave, was blocked by Republicans. Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat who tried to speed the measure through, said after the vote that "for many of our workers - restaurant workers, truck drivers, service industry workers - they may not have an option to take a day off without losing their pay or losing their job."

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She continued: "That's not a choice we should be asking anyone to make in the United States in the 21st century."

Andrew Cuomo[2], the New York governor, announced that he would guarantee two weeks of paid leave for state workers who are quarantined or self-isolating.

"No one should face economic hardship because a quarantine prevents them from working," Mr Cuomo wrote on Twitter. "New York State is going to set an example by guaranteeing 2 full weeks of paid leave for all state workers who are quarantined or in isolation due to #Coronavirus."

However, Mr Coumo's guarantee only covers state workers, bringing the rights of other workers into question.

There are currently 1,321 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the US with 38 deaths, leading to residents of 26 countries being banned from entering the US. All you need to know about paid sick leave in the US is below.

Are Americans getting sick leave?

At the time of writing, Americans are not getting 14 days of paid sick leave if they are in self-isolation[3] or quarantine because of the coronavirus. Some companies, such as Uber, are offering their employees 14 days sick leave and New York will offer state workers the same, according to governor Cuomo.

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However, because there is no federal law mandating paid sick leave[4] there is no guarantee that other workers will get paid sick leave if they are forced to stay home.

Individual states have their own laws surrounding sick leave, but only 12 have enacted laws requiring it.

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Those states are: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, and the District of Columbia. Although the states above have laws in place, none of them cover self-isolation or quarantine for the period of two weeks. Other companies that have updated their sick leave are: Walmart, McDonald's, Apple, Instacart, Lyft and Darden Restaurants, which operates the popular restaurant chain Olive Garden.

Is anything likely to change?

Mr Trump said in his Oval Office address on Wednesday night that action will soon be taken to provide financial relief to workers who are quarantined, or are caring for others due to Covid-19.

The president says he will be asking Congress[5] to take legislative action in order to offer relief for those affected, but so far this has not occurred. The Democrats' emergency bill on Wednesday aimed to bring paid sick leave into legislation, but was blocked by Republicans, leaving American citizens waiting for relief.

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Why is it important?

Paid sick leave is important amid coronavirus, as many are forced to self-isolate in order to stop the spread of the virus. Health authorities have advised that those exhibiting symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus should stay at home[6].

However, not everyone will have the option to do their job away from their place of work and right now there is no way to say how long people will have to work from home.


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  4. ^ paid sick leave (
  5. ^ Congress (
  6. ^ stay at home (

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