COVID-19 Response: Rep. Susie Lee, Committee Colleagues Introduce Bill to Secure Workers’ Access to Emergency Family, Medical Leave

March 12, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, member of the House Committee on Education and Labor U.S. Rep. Susie Lee (Nev.-03), Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (Va.-03), Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chair Alma Adams (N.C.-12), and Rep. Mark Takano (Calif.-41) introduced the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act to ensure workers have access to extended, job-protected leave to care for themselves and their families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation significantly expands the number of U.S. workers who can take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the event of a quarantine, illness, or school closure related to COVID-19. The bill is supplemented by separate legislation that would provide workers a wage replacement of two-thirds of their wages—up to $4,000 per month—that they can draw down while taking emergency FMLA.

“Right now, all of the medical experts are telling workers to stay home if they're sick, but for millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, that’s just not an option,” said Rep. Lee. “We need to ensure workers that they won’t lose their jobs because they made the responsible decision to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19. Southern Nevada is one of the travel and tourism capitals of the world, with thousands of service, hotel, and hourly workers who are worried about making the unfair choice of going to work for their livelihood or staying home for their health and the health of the public. This is one of those moments when Congress needs to step up and fulfill its solemn duty of protecting the American people, which is why my colleagues and I are introducing the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act to ensure that no working American loses their job for staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Our economic response to the coronavirus must put workers and families first,” said Chairman Scott. “The steps we must take to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 – including school closures, quarantines, and other important public health measures – will leave workers with no choice but to miss work. The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act will provide affected workers the support they need to care for themselves and their families without risking their jobs, their financial security, or the health of their communities.”

“The rapid spread of the coronavirus is threatening the health and financial security of millions of workers and their families,” said Chair Adams. “When so many people are unable to forego a paycheck and stay home to care for themselves and their loved ones, an increased risk of infectious disease is inevitable. Passing the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act is the least we can do to mitigate the spread of the virus and help keep American families afloat.”

“During this public health emergency, working people should not have to worry about how they will pay the bills or feed their families if they have to stay home sick to stop the spread of the coronavirus, or to care for a loved one who is sick,” said Rep. Takano. “The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act is necessary to give families peace of mind and encourage workers who have been exposed to coronavirus to stay home without worrying about a paycheck. This sensible legislation supports the millions of Americans who do not have access to paid sick leave and will aid in the response to this global pandemic by helping reduce the spread of the virus.”

BACKGROUND: To read the bill text for the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, click here.