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Employers no longer required to give paid leave to workers with Coronavirus

Mitch McConnell reportedly blocked any move to provide workers with crucial relief during the health crisis.

Employers no longer required to give paid leave to workers with Coronavirus
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 15: UU.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during a news conference with other Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol on December 15, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom Brenner-Pool/Getty Images)

Employers are no longer required to give two weeks of paid leave to workers with Coronavirus or for those taking care of someone with the virus. Republicans and Mitch McConnell, in particular, reportedly proved immovable obstacles as Democrats tried o make a case for workers during what is one of the worst health and financial crises in American history. The new $900 billion relief package Congress passed late Monday did not extend tax credits for employers that offered paid leave to workers until March. While the federal government will pay for paid sick leave till March, but businesses won't be required to offer it from January 1st, 2021, reported The Huffington Post. Workers will now risk losing their jobs if they take leave after contracting Coronavirus or will be forced to hide their diagnosis to secure a paycheck to make ends meet. 


In the first relief bill passed in March, Congress guaranteed workers up to two weeks of fully paid sick leave if they contracted Coronavirus or were taking care of those who had to quarantine. The bill also provided workers 10 weeks of emergency child care leave if schools or child care facilities were shut down. They were paid two-thirds of their regular salary. Congress granted employers a refundable tax credit to cover the costs of paying out paid sick leave. The program also expires at the end of the month. Despite encouraging support from some corners of Republican lawmakers and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to budge, reported Buzzfeed News.


Mitch McConnell has repeatedly shown they care more for businesses than workers and this new relief bill is yet another example of that. Some Republicans argued that mandating paid leave placed an unfair burden on state and local governments when they were not eligible for reimbursements from the federal government. However, this didn't move Republicans enough to increase federal funding to local governments. Republicans using the fiscal deficit as an argument against helping everyday Americans, didn't bat an eyelid when they handed out a rax cut for billionaires.


While Republicans can argue the economic side of the program, the move could spell disaster from a medical point of view. Workers will be forced to work, and thus putting them and their loved ones at greater risk of contracting the Coronavirus. “I worry that working people with employers who are unwilling to provide paid leave won’t be able to quarantine or care for their children when they need to. This approach puts all power in employers’ hands,” said Vicki Shabo, a senior fellow at New America and expert in paid leave. Shabo wasn't the only one to be up in arms over the omission of the program in the new relief bill. “The reason it falls short: the Senate majority leader favored partisan politics and corporate meal deductions over working people’s lives and livelihood,” said Wendy Chun-Hoon, executive director of Family Values @ Work, a group that advocates for paid leave. “Relying on the voluntary action of employers has left the U.S. as an outlier in the world and contributed to the disastrous spread of this pandemic.”


Mitch McConnell also fought to do away with stimulus checks. While $1200 was sanctioned in the previous bill, the new bill will only have $600 in direct cash payments. Donald Trump turned the table on Republicans as he demanded Congress send at least $2000 in direct payments as part of the new relief bill. "I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple," said Trump in a video statement, reported MSN News. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi jumped at the opportunity to pressure Republicans to consent to a $2,000 cheque as per the President's request. "If the President truly wants to join us in $2,000 payments, he should call upon Leader McCarthy to agree to our Unanimous Consent request," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "In the bipartisan negotiations," the California Democrat continued, Chuck Schumer and I repeatedly asked Republicans what would be the highest number the President would accept for direct payments, and they responded with Sphinx-like silence. In the negotiations, they would never go above $600 and in some cases, proposed $500."

Disclaimer: Information about the pandemic is swiftly changing, and Upworthy is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication. Therefore, we encourage you to also regularly check online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

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