Both the physical health and economic health of Americans now clearly are at risk from the Coronavirus. Public health officials are urging “social distancing” to help mitigate against the rapidly increasing spread of the disease. Large gatherings, including schools, concerts, and sporting events are being closed or cancelled. But too many businesses and workers are still facing the choice of dealing with the health crisis or the economic one.
The American Sustainable Business Council has called on Congress to act immediately to pass and for the President to sign the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201). HR 6201 would allow people to take the time that they need to stay healthy or to recover, while not losing needed income.
The bill provides for immediate emergency sick days, earned sick days, longer paid leave, and expanded unemployment insurance, with targeted assistance to small business. These steps are a critical foundation for supporting community health and at least maintaining, if not increasing, business productivity
ASBC has long advocated for stronger paid family leave protections, but this coronavirus crisis is a frightening demonstration of that need. When all employees have time to heal themselves, or time to care for sick family members, productivity increases, profits rise, our economy grows and our nation becomes stronger. To make this happen, workers need to have access to paid leave so they have support while dealing with personal or family health issues, and a job to come back to once the issues have been resolved.
Every health expert recommends that taking broad action quickly will help minimize the spread of this virus and other health threats. That can only benefit businesses, communities, and the economy as a whole. Yet, nationally, over 1 in 4 private sector employees lack access to earned sick days, and 60 percent of workers lack employer provided personal medical leave for a longer illness. But a recent study by ASBC and Panorama found a positive, or at worst neutral, impact on return on investment for businesses that offer paid leave.
It’s time for immediate action. Join ASBC in our call for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate to immediately pass, and the President to sign, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The country is in a crisis and requires a response to scale.
And to our members and fellow citizens, please closely follow the advice of health professionals.