Paid Sick Leave
The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. They had a great article recently explaining the failure of nursing homes to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Why did nursing homes become the source of over 40% of U.S. COVID-19 deaths? It comes down to money, and paid sick leave.
Paid sick leave laws require employers to pay workers who take time off when they sick, injured or seeking medical treatment. Federal law currently requires employers to provide paid sick leave for coronavirus. In March 2020, Congress passed the nation’s first universal paid sick leave law. Unfortunately, this law expires at the end of the year. Despite the law, many employers still do not offer paid sick leave.
The average nursing aide earns just above minimum wage; well below a living wage. The majority of aides receive government benefits despite most working over 50 hours a week. Many are women who work at multiple nursing homes to make ends meet.
In fact, the typical nursing home has staff connections to 15 other facilities. This increases the risk and opportunity for the coronavirus to spread. Almost half of infections in nursing homes were traced to staff who work in multiple health care facilities. They engage in “presenteeism.” That means caregivers continue to work even after being exposed to or falling ill from COVID-19.
That risk is magnified by employers failing to have paid sick leave to protect residents and caregivers.
We should provide mandatory paid sick leave to all healthcare providers. It is the right thing to do for the residents and the caregivers.