Raise Up MA Calls for Urgent Action on COVID-19 Protections for Working People

In News, Press Releases by News Desk

Community, Faith, & Labor Coalition Calls for Immediate Passage of Emergency Paid Sick Time Legislation

BOSTON – The Raise Up Massachusetts coalition of community groups, faith-based organizations, and labor unions – responsible for passage of the Commonwealth’s Earned Sick Time and Paid Family and Medical Leave laws, as well as increases in the state’s minimum wage – today called for immediate passage of Emergency Paid Sick Time legislation in Massachusetts as part of the initial government response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The coalition released the following statement:

“In order to ensure that working people can stay home and avoid exposing others to the coronavirus, it is crucial that all workers have the ability to miss work without losing the pay they need to make ends meet. In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak and the massive economic disruption it is creating, Massachusetts must urgently act to protect our most vulnerable residents.

“Low-wage workers are our first line of defense against COVID-19, but they are feeling the greatest economic impact of the outbreak. Healthcare and long-term care workers, janitorial workers, food service workers, child care workers, municipal workers, adjunct faculty, gig workers, and others on the front lines are critical to supporting our communities during the outbreak. But many of them are struggling economically and lack basic economic protections including adequate paid sick time and affordable health care.

“Over the coming months, significant state-level action will be required to relieve the economic damage this crisis is causing, and Raise Up Massachusetts will continue to work with our allies and partners in government to ensure that low-wage workers are especially protected. As part of the initial government response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we call on the Legislature to immediately pass the following policy to ensure that all workers can take paid sick time during this crisis:

Emergency Paid Sick Time
Guarantee all workers at least fifteen additional work-days (120 hours) of job-protected paid sick time for immediate use during the COVID-19 outbreak or any future public health emergency. This Emergency Paid Sick Time is in addition to any earned sick time rights available to workers under the Commonwealth’s 2014 Earned Sick Time law. The costs of the additional Emergency Paid Sick Time, capped at $850 per 5-day week, should be paid by the state, not by employers. Emergency Paid Sick Time should be available, retroactive to March 10, 2020, with no waiting period, for use:
a) if a worker is infected
b) for quarantine and self-quarantine
c) to take care of a spouse, family member, or a person living in the same dwelling who is infected, quarantined, or self-quarantined, or
d) to care for child, a minor, or a dependent because of a school or care facility closing

Raise Up Massachusetts is a coalition of community groups, faith-based organizations, and labor unions committed to building an economy that invests in families, gives everyone the opportunity to succeed, and creates broadly shared prosperity. Since our coalition came together in 2013, we have nearly doubled wages for hundreds of thousands of working people by winning two increases in the state’s minimum wage, won best-in-the-nation earned sick time and paid family and medical leave benefits for workers and their families, led the campaign for the Fair Share Amendment to invest in transportation and public education, and started to build an economy that works for all of us, not just those at the top. Learn more at raiseupma.org.