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Paid leave bill advances

A bill to require public and private employers to provide eligible employees paid quarantine leave passed out of the House Labor and Commerce Committee and was sent to the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Sponsored by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, HB 5116 will require employers to provide up to 80 hours (two weeks) of paid sick time during the COVID-19 pandemic for an employee to use to quarantine themselves or to care for a family member with COVID-19. The amount of paid time would be determined by the average number of hours the employee works over two weeks. Employees would be eligible if they work, on average, at least 20 hours per week.

“This country is in crisis, and if we’re serious about stopping the spread of COVID-19, we can’t force people to choose between their health and a paycheck.” Guzman said.

Even before the pandemic, 1.2 million workers in Virginia had no paid sick days or any paid time off (PTO). This creates a crisis for low-wage workers who must choose between taking a sick day for themselves or their children and getting paid. When workers go to work sick, it decreases productivity and makes it harder for Virginia’s economy to safely reopen and stay open during the pandemic.