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Chairman Scott: Independent Watchdog Report Reveals Administration Is Improperly Denying Workers Paid Leave During Pandemic

08.11.20

WASHINGTON Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) released the following statement in response to a report from the Department of Labor’s Inspector General that found the Department’s implementation of the paid leave provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act needlessly excluded too many workers. The report also finds the Department has not developed a clear plan to enforce paid leave protections.

“The Department of Labor Inspector General’s report confirms that the Trump administration is using its discretion to prevent workers from accessing emergency paid leave during a global pandemic.

“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act – which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support – explicitly provided COVID-related paid leave for as many as 87 million workers. The paid leave provisions were meant to prevent potentially infected workers from being forced to choose between staying home and losing weeks of pay or going to work and spreading the virus to their coworkers, customers, and communities.

“The Inspector General’s report makes clear that the Department of Labor went out of its way to limit the number of workers who could take emergency paid leave. The Department’s definition of ‘health care provider,’ who are exempted from the paid leave provisions, is so broad that it exempts any worker who works in a health care facility or merely works for an employer that provides services to health care facilities. This conclusion echoes last week’s federal court decision, which found that the definition violated the clear text of the law.

“Even worse, by its own admission, the Department is undercounting the number of workers who are being denied paid leave because of its overly broad definition.

“The report also reveals that the Department still has not developed a clear plan to enforce paid leave provisions, minimum wage protections, and many other worker protections during the pandemic. This absence of meaningful enforcement of our nation’s basic workplace laws creates a major risk to workers who are already vulnerable to exploitation amid record unemployment.

“The Trump administration insisted on narrowing access to paid leave eligibility during negotiations over the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Administration then failed to properly inform workers about their rights and issued a rule that unlawfully excluded an unknown number of workers. The Administration still has no plan to enforce paid leave protections.

“The administration should take the report’s findings seriously by immediately restoring access to emergency paid leave for workers who should never have been exempted and developing a comprehensive plan to ensure workers are protected from wage theft during this pandemic.”

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