COVID-19 Exposes Need for Paid Family and Sick Leave in Colorado
Thursday, March 26, 2020
DENVER -- Longtime advocates of paid family leave and sick days for all Colorado workers are hoping state lawmakers see the coronavirus pandemic as a wake-up call.
The vast majority of Coloradans don't have access to paid family or sick leave, making it hard for many workers to stay home if they, or someone in their family, has symptoms.
Kathy White, deputy director of the Colorado Fiscal Institute, says the COVID-19 crisis shows how critical paid leave is for workers, the overall economy and public health.
"There are always going to be times when people need to take time off work -- for themselves, to care for a loved one, to deal with a serious medical illness -- and now, we're seeing, even for a public health crisis," she states.
Congress recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which includes temporary paid leave provisions, but it excludes between 50% and 75% of private sector workers, including those who work for companies with 500 or more employees.
Critics of paid family leave argue that the costs could be too high for businesses operating on thin profit margins.
White was part of a task force charged with finding the best way to create a statewide paid family and medical leave program, but she says the recommendations it delivered in January were essentially rejected.
Instead of creating a broad, public insurance model where risk is spread out across the workforce -- much like unemployment insurance -- she says lawmakers are leaning toward a private, for-profit model.
"By all accounts, the private insurance model was more expensive than a social insurance model," she states. "When you have a social insurance model, there's no profit margin that needs to be made. Private insurers are always going to need to make a profit."
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, people with disabilities who lose their principal caregiver to COVID-19 also won't be able to have family members use paid sick leave in order to provide care.
The U.S. is currently the only developed nation without a paid family leave policy for all workers.
Disclosure: Colorado Fiscal Institute contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Census, Education, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
ALBANY, N.Y. -- A new survey shows most New Yorkers approve of medical aid-in-dying legislation, and advocates for end-of-life autonomy said it is …
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohioans across religious traditions have come together as one voice this week to speak out against capital punishment. Dozens of …
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Community college students in California are being encouraged to take a closer look at their education plans, to see if …
SPRINGDALE, Ark. -- New efforts are underway to help small-scale farms in Arkansas expand their business. The Food Conservancy, a northwest Arkansas …
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A high percentage of rejected voter registrations in three of Ohio's biggest counties is raising some red flags. According to the …
CORRECTION: The last day to request absentee ballots in Virginia is Fri., Oct. 22. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Oct…
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A special court panel is hosting public hearings this month, asking Minnesotans what new political maps should look like, and …
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas has some of the weakest gun laws in America, and gun-control advocates say the permissive attitude may be why a student …