As Coronavirus Spreads, Legislators call for Paid Family and Medical Leave

Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) today called on colleagues in the Senate to pass the Family Care Act (Senate Bill 580 ) which would establish paid family medical leave for all working Pennsylvanians in response to the growing threat of COVID-19, with confirmed cases in Pennsylvania continuing to rise.

With more Pennsylvanians ordered to quarantine at home, and with school closures requiring parents to stay home with their children, The Family Care Act offers security and relief during these times of uncertainty.  For the hardworking families who are forced to spend days or weeks away from work, paid family medical leave provides a fair and humane solution that allows them to care for their health, the health of a family member, or to protect public health without risking their jobs.

“I’m concerned not only for the health of all of our citizens, but also for the hard working wage earners who need to stay home either for themselves or to care for family members – so they won’t be financially destroyed by situations out of their control,” said Senator Laughlin.

While FMLA may protect some Pennsylvanians ordered to quarantine from losing their jobs, many PA workers are not eligible for FMLA coverage and therefore face the impossible choice between their health and their livelihood, with no legal job protection during a mandatory quarantine or serious illness.  And even for workers covered by FMLA, there is no protection from lost work hours and missed paychecks against their will, leaving quarantined workers to financially fend for themselves.  With 78 percent of full-time workers in the U.S. living paycheck to paycheck, involuntarily missing work for public health emergencies such as COVID-19 could bring financial ruin to hardworking families.

“The current outbreak is an example of how unexpected situations can affect all of us when we least expect it, and how vital paid family leave is to Pennsylvania,” said Senator Laughlin. “It’s time to pass The Family Care Act so we can protect hardworking Pennsylvanians now – and in the future – from unexpected illnesses, accidents, public health emergencies, natural disasters, and other hardships that should never cause a worker to lose their job or financial security.”

The bipartisan sponsors of the bill, Senators Laughlin and Maria Collett (D-Bucks, Montgomery) recently spoke to the Senate Labor & Industry Committee about the need for Pennsylvania employees to have time to care for their health and their families at critical moments.


Contact:         Matt Azeles      


About the Family Care Act

The Family Care Act would establish a statewide insurance fund, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and supported by a small payroll deduction of half a penny per dollar earned. The bill would cover eligible, approved leave for self-care and care for a family member.  If passed, the Family Care Act would make Pennsylvania the 8th state to implement a state-managed insurance fund that will provide paid family leave benefits for all its workers. Only 14% of the U.S. workforce currently has access to any type of paid family leave, with just 6% of the lowest wage earners receiving paid family leave compared to 22% of top sector earners. A companion bill to SB580 has been introduced in the House as HB1739 by Representatives Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) and Dan Miller (D-Allegheny).

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