Pressure Mounts for Large Employers to Match Paid Leave Benefits of Families First Coronavirus Response Act

April 03, 2020

Many advocates and policymakers are pressing large employers to follow the same paid sick leave construct that smaller employers must implement under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The California Labor Federation sent Governor Gavin Newsom (D) a long list of recommendations for swift policy action, including “job-protected leave for all workers … regardless of employer size, hours worked, or tenure.”  The unions also seek to expand the definition of serious health conditions to include an individual quarantined due to a public health emergency. 

Using Zoom to meet remotely, the Los Angeles City Council voted last Friday that businesses with 500 or more workers must increase paid leave for employees who have fallen ill or need to care for family members.  The new law adds to existing requirements for those businesses under the City’s previously-enacted paid leave law.

Senators weigh in:  At least three U.S. senators have sent letters urging or demanding several large employers meet the leave requirements in Families First. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said repeatedly that a fourth virus-related bill is imminent.  Among her many policy preferences for bill number 4 is paid leave.  “We don’t have the family and medical leave to the extent that we will,” the Speaker said.

And don’t forget:  Two people with the president’s ear, Ivanka Trump and her husband, have been raising the profile of the issue of paid leave in Republican circles and elsewhere for more than three years. 

The bottom line is large employers are at risk for virus leave mandates at every level of government.  Forthcoming local, state or federal laws could require you to grant the leave and prescribe eligibility as well as the number of hours/days available.  Moreover, advocates, social media organizers, employees, and policy makers are likely to seek to pressure and shame companies into granting more paid leave.  HR Policy members should be bold in telling the public and policy makers how they are being flexible with their workers and how they are doing their part to fight the virus—whether because they produce essential products, have technological resources, or are being good neighbors in their communities.