Van Hollen, Senators Call on Employers to Offer Flexibility in the Event of Coronavirus Outbreak
Workers should not be penalized for following guidance from public health authorities
U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and twelve other Senators in urging major U.S. employers to commit that workers will not be penalized for following recommended health procedures to protect the public from further spread of the coronavirus.
In a letter to major industry groups, which together represent thousands of major companies employing millions of Americans, the Senators wrote, "As the United States mobilizes to respond to the recent outbreak and spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, we write to urge your member companies to prioritize their employees’ health, economic well-being, and security during this response. The companies you represent are some of the largest, most high profile companies in the United States. The broader business community watches their actions closely and we believe they have an opportunity, and an obligation, to lead in this moment."
The Senators continued, "No one should be penalized by their employer or put in any financial duress for following CDC guidance. To that end, we encourage your member companies to commit to ensure that any employees or contractors who follow novel coronavirus-related guidance from public health authorities can count on basic protections like preservation of their employment status and basic financial forbearance."
Specifically, the Senators called on employers to:
- Ensure that workers will not lose their jobs if they are forced to self-quarantine or stay home to care for a sick family member;
- Not require employees under quarantine to deplete sick or annual leave;
- Offer flexible scheduling options, including telework and unscheduled leave, if employees are unable to report to work;
- Ensure workers have access to financial assistance in the event of a sustained or widespread disruption due to coronavirus;
- And work with insurance providers to ensure that workers can affordably access preventive care and treatment for coronavirus.
In addition to Sens. Van Hollen and Warner, the letter was signed by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Copies of the letter were sent to the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.
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