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Dem lawmakers say coronavirus makes strong case for paid family leave

February 28, 2020
Janine R. Boyd News

State Reps. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) today issued statements saying the state’s failure to extend paid family and medical leave to all employees could pose a danger to public health should a coronavirus outbreak occur in Ohio.

“While the CDC and many Ohio businesses are telling workers to stay home if they get sick, the reality is that for too many Ohioans, this means time off without pay—hurting family budgets and forcing people back into work before it’s safe, which could make a coronavirus outbreak even worse,” said Rep. Boyd.

In 2019, Reps. Boyd and Boggs introduced House Bill (HB) 91 to establish the Ohio Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, which would provide economic stability to working families in times of a medical emergency, when caring for a sick loved one, or welcoming a newborn into the family.

"The threat of a coronavirus outbreak underscores yet another reason why having a paid family leave program is critical,” said Rep. Boggs. “We know the risk of a full-blown outbreak increases when people go to work sick, but too many Ohioans can’t take the hit to their paycheck to stay home. Unfortunately, without a paid leave program too many Ohioans will be forced to work and potentially expose their coworkers to illness."

While federal law provides some workers the ability to take leave, it does not provide those workers with any guarantees that they will have compensation while on leave.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 63 percent of people working in service occupations have paid sick leave, and for those working part-time, that number drops to only 43 percent—something the Democratic lawmakers say their bill will address.

While HB 91 was introduced more than a year ago, the Ohio House’s GOP-controlled Insurance Committee has held only two hearings on the bill.

There are no further hearings scheduled at the current time.