Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla)
WASHINGTON—U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, today introduced legislation to provide emergency paid leave to American workers affected by coronavirus. Murphy’s bill would be especially helpful in Florida, which is uniquely vulnerable to coronavirus given that it is a popular travel and tourism destination and has a large percentage of elderly residents. Florida does not have a state-administered paid leave program, many companies in the state do not offer paid leave to their employees, and the state is home to many hourly workers who live paycheck to paycheck. Murphy’s bill is expected to be included in a larger package of bills that the House will consider this week as part of its ongoing effort to respond to the health and economic impacts of coronavirus.
“As American workers and businesses begin to feel the economic damage caused by the coronavirus, hardworking families in states like Florida live in fear of becoming ill and losing their job or their wages,” said Murphy. “In this public health emergency, no person should have to choose between staying home to recover or help take care of a loved one or going to work sick and potentially exposing others. Providing emergency paid leave for workers will be a major step toward stopping the spread of the virus and helping central Florida’s economy.”
Murphy’s bill, H.R. 6198, the Emergency Paid Leave Act, would offer financial assistance to any worker who misses at least 14 days of work because they have coronavirus or because they are quarantined at the instruction of a doctor, employer, or public health official. The bill would also assist any worker who misses work because they are caring for an individual affected by coronavirus. This includes workers who cannot go to work because they must care for a child or elderly parent, whose day care facility or nursing home has been closed due to coronavirus concerns.
Under Murphy’s bill, eligible workers include employees working for companies of any size, as well as self-employed workers and workers in the gig economy. Eligible workers will receive a benefit equal to two-thirds of their monthly earnings. Benefits would last for up to three months, with a maximum monthly benefit of $4,000. This will enable workers who would otherwise not be working and earning money to continue to provide for their families and to spend money in the local economy.
This bill is the latest of numerous steps Murphy has taken related to coronavirus. In early February, she sent a letter urging federal agencies to strengthen safety measures at Florida’s airports and seaports and to enhance their cooperation with state and local officials. That same month, she convened a roundtable with health experts to provide the public with accurate information about coronavirus. Murphy has also called on state government officials to be more forthcoming with the public about the steps they are taking to respond to this public health emergency, including disclosing the number of suspected cases, which state officials have now done. Earlier this week, Murphy urged Governor DeSantis and state legislative leaders to protect Floridians from coronavirus by expanding Medicaid to provide access to health care for more people. Finally, Murphy is pushing for targeted support for affected workers and businesses in Florida who are suffering from the economic impact of coronavirus.
To read the bill text, click here. To read a one-page summary, click here.