COLUMBUS- State Rep. Janine Boyd (Cleveland Heights-D) and Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (Columbus-D) today issued statements on the need to address emergency paid sick leave for working people and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Emergency paid sick leave was not included in House Bill (HB) 197, the COVID-19 omnibus legislative package passed by the Ohio General Assembly.
“What’s missing in the omnibus package is emergency paid sick leave for the people we are requiring to stay home. That is a shame. I am hearing some of my colleagues say they want people off of public assistance, so when we provide families the tools to be more self-sufficient, they need to support those measures,” said Boyd.
“By helping all families, including military, full and part-time working families, and independent contractors, paid sick leave helps Ohio’s economy. In this state of emergency, we should create an emergency fund to minimize the financial burden for laid-off or underemployed Ohioans who are at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While the omnibus package does a lot of good, there is a big chunk missing, which is emergency paid sick leave. We need to make sure the State addresses this moving forward.”
On March 18, 2020 the Federal Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law. The FFCRA established a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The FFCRA does not cover private employers with more than five hundred employees, nor employers with fifty or less employees.
Boyd and Boggs introduced emergency legislation to provide up to 21 days of emergency paid sick leave, and to allow 1099 employees and contract workers to receive unemployment compensation. The bill would allow individuals who are not covered by the FFCRA to receive paid sick days through the state. This legislation was not included in the COVID-19 omnibus legislative package.
“The COVID-19 crisis is illustrative of how no one is safe from a healthcare crisis. Had we created a paid leave program when it was introduced two terms ago, Ohioans who are forced to stay home to flatten the curve would have greater access to financial security,” said Boggs. “To continue ignoring the need for an emergency paid leave program now is disheartening and irresponsible.”
Boyd further emphasized that paid family and medical leave has been a longtime priority for House Democrats.
“I’ve been trying to pass Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation since 2016, most recently House Bill 91 in the 133rd General Assembly,” said Boyd. “The language has always been employer friendly because it’s an employee-driven fund that the state would run or bid out to another entity to operate the insurance program, and there would be little to no cost to the employer. If we had passed this bill, many of the people who are required to stay home to save lives would have access to their own money through a Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program.”