As the House Plans for COVID CARES 2 Legislation, Labor's Wish List Grows

April 24, 2020

The House CARES 2 bill could include provisions to extend paid sick and family leave mandates to all employers, mandate hazard pay and personal protective equipment for essential employees, and require OSHA to publish new workplace safety standards.

The House will likely introduce the initial legislative language, but negotiations with the Senate and White House will temper any final bill that is enacted.

CARES 2 may include a handful of smaller bills and proposals that have been recently introduced, including:

  • The COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act which would require OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard for all workplaces to implement infectious disease exposure control plans during the pandemic;

  • The Worker Health Coverage Protection Act, which would provide federal assistance to cover the full cost of COBRA premiums for workers or the full cost of health insurance premiums owed by workers who are furloughed;

  • The COVID-19 “Heroes Fund,” which would provide a federally-funded $25,000 pandemic premium pay increase for essential frontline workers and a $15,000 recruitment incentive for health and home care workers and first responders; and

  • An Essential Workers Bill of Rights, which includes protections for collective bargaining agreements, penalties for misclassifying workers, putting workers on boards of directors, and requiring employers to remain neutral in union organizing drives.

Outlook:  The next bill is likely to bolster state and local budgets during the pandemic.  A key question is how many of the above Democratic-supported policies will be included in the final measure.