Friday, December 25, 2020

US companies no longer have to pay sick leave to people with Covid after Mitch McConnell reportedly blocks extension


The Independent
James Crump
Tue, December 22, 2020, 4:35 PM EST

US businesses will no longer have to provide sick leave to employees who contract coronavirus, after Senate Majority Leader  [republican] Mitch McConnell reportedly blocked an extension of the policy.

At the start of the pandemic in the US in March, Congress passed legislation that allowed employees to claim two weeks of paid sick leave if they contracted Covid-19.

The legislation also mandated two weeks of paid leave to care for a relative who was quarantining after contracting Covid-19, and 10 weeks of paid family leave to look after a child whose school or daycare was closed because of the pandemic.

The requirement was not universal, as businesses with more than 500 employees were exempt from providing the paid leave, while companies with fewer than 50 workers were able to apply for an exemption.

However, as part of the first coronavirus relief package since spring, which was agreed by Congress on Sunday, the paid leave mandate was not extended, according to Buzzfeed News.

Both Republican and Democratic Congressional aides told Buzzfeed that the extension of paid leave was left out of the bill as a concession to Mr McConnell, who had been pushing for it not to be included.

Despite the end of the mandate, the bill does extend a refundable tax credit that subsidises the cost of paying sick leave until the end of March 2021.

However, making use of this subsidy is optional for businesses, meaning that US employees will no longer be automatically entitled to paid sick leave after contracting Covid-19.


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