Farnese, Hohenstein to introduce emergency sick pay legislation

With the federal response still clouded by politics, state Sen. Larry Farnese and Rep. Joe Hohenstein will introduce state legislation to provide emergency paid sick leave for Pennsylvania workers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and response.

“While drastic action was necessary to stem the spread of this dangerous virus, equally aggressive action must be taken to help those who are suffering the economic consequences of our mitigation policies,” Farnese said. “We must recognize their sacrifice to public health.”

The bills are designed to enhance and further the provisions of the U.S. House-passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

“It’s time to recognize paid sick and family leave not only as sound and humane economic policy, but also as fundamental public health policy,” Hohenstein said. “While we have known this for years, this pandemic should drive home for long-time opponents the need to motivate workers to stay home when sick.”

The lawmakers have begun circulating co-sponsorship memos for companion legislation in each chamber that will provide:

  • Emergency paid sick leave for all employees not covered by the federal bill.
  • Extended paid sick leave for an additional 4 days to cover the full two-week quarantine period as the federal bill only covers 10 days. 
  • Extended leave for those laid off or whose workplaces have closed.
  • And additional 1/3 pay rate for those who must take leave to care for a child whose school has closed so employees receive 100 percent of pay.
  • Extended family medical leave to all employees at 100 percent wage rate immediately upon starting leave to cover the unpaid time under the federal bill and then the additional 1/3 pay to fill the gap to 100 percent pay rate though the term covered by the Family Medical Leave Act. 
  • Guarantees for re-employment for workers returning from leave.

“Now is the opportunity for our nation to get it right and provide hardworking men and women a chance to receive emergency paid sick leave in this time of uncertainty.” said Gabe Morgan, 32BJ SEIU Vice President for Pennsylvania and Delaware.  “We applaud Senator Farnese  and Representative Hohenstein for jumping in and taking action to make sure working Pennsylvanians can be paid and take the leave they need.”