NFFE Seeks COVID Leave for All Federal Workers
NFFE urges Congress to renew the COVID leave provisions provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) passed last year and expand the provisions to cover all federal workers retroactively, back to the date of declaration of the national health emergency.
When Congress originally passed these provisions in March 2020, the law provided private-sector employees with the right to:
- Two weeks of sick leave at regular pay for workers experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who were required to quarantine because of close exposure to the infection,
- Two weeks of sick leave at 2/3 pay to care for another individual affected by COVID-19, and
- An additional 10 weeks of family leave at 2/3 pay to care for a child whose school or childcare provider was closed due to COVID-19.
The program successfully improved the health and safety of the American public during the pandemic last year, preventing at least 400 COVID-19 cases per day per state, or more than 15,000 cases per day nationwide. NFFE requests that Congress renew these provisions with the following additions:
- Extend critical benefits of sick and family leave to all federal workers and increase the amount of COVID leave to 14 weeks as requested by President Biden. Unfortunately, the family leave provisions of the FFCRA did not apply to most federal employees, notably those covered by title 5. It also allowed federal agencies to exclude health care providers and emergency responders from any of the leave. This is counterproductive as these workers are at serious risk of contracting COVID-19 in the course of their work or when traveling to or from work.
- Provide parity to all federal workers. Unfortunately, the FFCRA did not recognize federal employees who regularly work uncommon work hours. Numbers of high-risk federal employees, such as firefighters, are normally scheduled up to 144 hours, well more than 80 hours provided by FFCRA, during each two-calendar week pay period. FFCRA must be renewed and authorize full coverage to employees working uncommon work hours with retroactivity.