Letting Emergency Paid Leave Lapse is Unconscionable Choice as “Dark Winter” Looms—Congressional Leaders Must Act

Statement of Vicki Shabo, Senior Fellow for Paid Leave Policy and Strategy, New America’s Better Life Lab
Press Release
Dec. 15, 2020

The following statement can be attributed to Vicki Shabo, Senior Fellow for Paid Leave Policy and Strategy for the Better Life Lab at New America:

"Yesterday, on the very day the United States crossed a grim 300,000 COVID-19 death threshold, key members of Congress drafting a $908 billion relief package made a conscious – and unconscionable – choice to let emergency paid sick days and paid family leave provisions lapse at the end of the year by failing to include an extension of expiring provisions in their proposed package. Congressional leadership must intervene immediately to include these essential provisions in any final relief package. Congress’ inaction creates barriers to safety, security and the healthy functioning of households, businesses, schools and communities. It ties the hands of workers and businesses when they need help the most. It is a choice the country cannot afford.

"Emergency paid leave is shown to prevent more than 400 COVID-19 cases per day per state, or more than 15,000 COVID-19 cases per day nationwide. Ensuring workers have paid leave through the looming “dark winter” would save lives, conserve health care resources, help businesses afford paid leave and keep workers attached to their jobs. In contrast, cutting off the right of up to 87 million workers to receive paid leave to quarantine, self-isolate or seek a diagnosis by allowing the emergency provisions passed in March as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to sunset will move the country more deeply in the wrong direction in containing this deadly and disruptive virus at the very time when the country needs mitigating measures the most.

"The Joint Committee on Taxation reportedly estimates that a three month extension of emergency paid sick and family leave would cost $1.8 billion dollars – less than .2 percent of the cost of the total $908 billion package and a small fraction of the $300 billion that Congress is allocating for PPP loans. The emergency paid leave funds, like PPP, are also funds that would flow to small businesses, which depend on a healthy workforce to keep functioning."

For more information on what this dark milestone means for the country, please contact Vicki Shabo, shabo@newamerica.org.