Clyburn Seeks Answers from Secretary Scalia on Labor Department Rules that Could Eliminate Paid Leave for Millions of Workers
Washington, D.C. (July 21, 2020) — Today, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent a letter to Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia seeking documents and communications on the Department of Labor’s implementation of paid leave provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which could lead millions of businesses to deny emergency paid leave to their employees during the coronavirus crisis.
“In passing this law, Congress intended to make paid leave more widely available to American workers during the coronavirus pandemic, in order to protect workers and their families and help stop the further spread of this deadly virus,” the Chairman wrote. “However, under your leadership, the Department of Labor’s rule appears to ignore the law’s intent, which could lead millions of businesses to deny FFCRA paid leave to their employees.”
The Department’s rule includes extremely broad interpretations of statutory exceptions for healthcare providers and emergency responders, and also significantly expands the law’s small business exemption from certain paid leave requirements. The Department also does not require employers to justify their decisions to the Department when they deny FFCRA leave to an employee.
“Contrary to the intent of Congress, the Department could leave businesses the unchecked ability to carve out a large swath of American workers from receiving emergency paid leave,” the Chairman wrote.
As coronavirus cases in the United States continue to surge—with more than 3.8 million cases reported so far—sick employees should not have to choose between a paycheck and staying home until they are healthy.
The Chairman continued: “The Department also has failed to ensure that workers are aware of their right to paid leave and to effectively inform employers of their obligation to provide it. Surveys and media reports suggest that more than half of employees are not aware of these rights . . . . Many employers have not provided employees with notice of their paid leave rights as required by law and have failed to take necessary steps to allow employees to use this leave.”
The letter requests that the Department of Labor produce records about how it developed exemptions for health care workers, emergency responders, and small businesses. The letter also seeks information on businesses’ use of paid leave and the Department’s enforcement efforts.
Click here to read today’s letter to Secretary Scalia.