Millions of North Carolina workers, especially women and workers of color, still lack federally guaranteed paid sick days protections as COVID-19 spreads, despite recent federal action to slow the spread of the pandemic.
As a result, significant swaths of the North Carolina workforce are forced to choose to between earning their paycheck and keeping themselves, their families, and their coworkers healthy, even as COVID continues to spread, according to a new report from the NC Justice Center.
Even more troubling, the lack of guaranteed paid sick days coverage for so many North Carolina workers could prove disastrous if policymakers move to open the economy too quickly, as it will directly encourage sick workers to return to work and possibly spread the contagion.
Given the intensely infectious nature of the new coronavirus, paid sick days play an essential role in halting the spread of the disease by allowing workers to take time away from work without losing wages. Paid sick leave has long been recognized as a key tool that helps reduce the spread of contagious illnesses in the workplace — sparing coworkers and customers alike—and now more than ever working people need this tool to keep themselves safe on the job.
Yet recent federal action on this has fallen significantly short of what the moment requires, according to the report:
The paid sick days provisions included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and recent U.S. Department of Labor rules implementing the law have left between 58% and 83% of the state’s workforce—as many as 3 million North Carolina workers—without access to guaranteed paid sick days protections in the federal legislation. Here’s why: Read more