Ohio House Democrats are using the coronavirus outbreak in the United States to advocate for paid family and medical leave.
“The threat of a coronavirus outbreak underscores yet another reason why having a paid family leave program is critical,” state Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) said in a statement.
Boggs and Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) introduced a bill last year to establish the Ohio Family and Medical Insurance Program, which they say 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.”
“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,” Boggs added.
The lawmakers expressed frustration with the fact that their bill has only received two hearings in the Ohio House Insurance Committee. They said that an estimated 63 percent of Americans working in service occupations have paid sick leave – a number that drops to 43 percent for part-time workers.
However, people who are already retired and people with severe chronic medical conditions are far more likely to contract COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older people are twice as likely to have a “serious COVID-19 illness.”
Boyd said that a lack of paid family and medical leave could force “people back into work before it’s safe, which could make a coronavirus outbreak even worse.” But people with the virus are asked to self-quarantine at home for 14 days – about nine days more than the flu.
“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,” Boyd added.
A fiscal analysis for the bill notes that the estimated costs for Connecticut’s paid family and medical leave insurance program were $13.6 million in start-up costs and $18.6 million per year in administration. In Illinois, the start-up costs were $75 million and $46 million annually for administration.
– – –
Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photos “Rep. Kristin Boggs” and “Rep. Janine Boyd” by The Ohio Legislature.