By: Yadira Sanchez
Three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for paid leave is clear as day. Especially for the Latinx community, many members of whom served on the frontlines during the pandemic. At this time we saw many employers increasing the paid leave benefits allotted to their employees or expanding existing benefits, usually temporarily. As time has allowed for a better understanding of the virus, people are growing more comfortable with less protection.
But the reality is that people are still getting sick – and rolling back paid family and medical leave benefits will only harm the most vulnerable in our society – those who were on the frontlines of the pandemic when it started – immigrants, low-wage workers, and women of color. Whether it is to take care of a loved one or themselves, these workers will often work through their illnesses, if they do not have access to paid family and medical leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act (1993) only covers unpaid leave, and missing out on even a fraction of a paycheck is just not an option for many families right now with high costs.
We need workers to have a fighting chance and be able to take care of themselves and loved ones – we need paid family and medical leave across the nation for all workers, now. This fight started long before the pandemic and it will continue long after, but the pandemic made these issues so clear for many who are not usually impacted. That’s why Poder Latinx is forging strong local paid leave coalitions in Arizona, Florida, and Georgia – to bring together Latinx workers of all walks of life, build strong local champions, and get them engaged in the fight for paid leave for all.
Having access to life-changing benefits like paid family and medical leave is the new American Dream in a pandemic-ridden world.