Rep. Gomez, Senators Whitehouse and Reed Introduce Legislation to Support State Paid Leave Programs During COVID-19 Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), a member of the Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, introduced the State Paid Leave for America Now (PLAN) Act. The State PLAN Act would reimburse state paid family and medical leave programs for the cost of benefits for circumstances related to COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has once again demonstrated the importance of paid family and medical leave as an economic necessity,” said Congressman Gomez. “America’s working families need the ability to care for themselves and their loved ones – particularly in the midst of national public health emergency – without fear they’ll lose their job and their livelihood. The State PLAN Act uplifts our workforce by strengthening state paid leave programs and expanding their ability to support workers during these unprecedented times. My advocacy for strong paid leave policies have spanned my entire political career, from expanding California’s paid leave program as a member of the State Legislature to holding paid leave roundtables with health experts and business leaders as a member of Congress. With the introduction of the State PLAN Act, I am proud to continue those efforts to implement paid leave policies nationwide and meet the needs of those who represent the economic backbone of our country.”

"This pandemic has demonstrated more clearly than ever that paid family leave is an important element of a humane and healthy society," said Senator Whitehouse. "In the absence of a commonsense national paid leave policy, states like Rhode Island that have led the way with their own leave systems should be provided federal support to keep those programs afloat during a national health crisis."

Five states and the District of Columbia have sustainable, long-term paid family and medical leave programs in place at the state level. Additionally, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) included historic provisions requiring some employers to provide limited paid sick days and paid leave for certain purposes during the current COVID-19 crisis. However, these provisions were extremely limited in scope. In contrast, workers in states with existing paid leave programs were able to access their state programs.

The State PLAN Act would level the playing field between states, helping states keep workers safe and healthy. Under the legislation, states would receive federal reimbursement for the cost of benefits for individuals taking paid leave under their state program because of COVID-19 diagnosis or quarantine, or caregiving for someone diagnosed or quarantined because of COVID-19. Eligibility for this reimbursement for benefits and associated administrative costs would span from January 27, 2020 (COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency) through the end of 2021.

The State PLAN Act was cosponsored in the Senate by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and in the House by the following Representatives: Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Danny Davis (IL-07), André Carson (IN-07), Judy Chu (CA-27), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ro Khanna (CA-17), James R. Langevin (RI-02), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), William Pascrell (NJ-09), Katie Porter (CA-45), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (GU-AL), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Jackie Speier (CA-14), and Tom Suozzi (NY-03).

The State PLAN Act has been endorsed by the following groups: A Better Balance; American Sustainable Business Council; The Arc of the United States; Black Women’s Roundtable; California Work & Family Coalition; Caring Across Generations; Center for Law and Social Policy; Center for Popular Democracy; Citizen Action of New York; Economic Opportunity Institute (WA); Economic Progress Institute (RI); Family Values @ Work; Jobs with Justice; Labor Project for Working Families; Main Street Alliance; MomsRising; National Partnership for Women & Families; New Jersey Citizen Action; New Jersey Time to Care Coalition; 9to5; Paid Leave for All; PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States; Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United; Small Business Majority.

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