April 03, 2020

Warren and Booker Urge Labor Department to Reverse Guidance that Strips Workers of Leave Benefits

Labor Department announced last week it was exempting wide categories of workers from leave benefits in aid package passed by Congress

Text of Letter (PDF)


Washington, DC – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) today urged the Department of Labor (DOL) to reconsider its decision to strip emergency paid sick and family leave from millions of workers, a benefit established under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the second Coronavirus aid package passed in mid-March.


Last week, the DOL issued guidance that broadly expanded the categories of workers exempt from such emergency leave benefits, in effect stripping the congressionally-mandated protections of the bill from a wide swath of Americans. The guidance broadly interpreted the definition of “health care provider” and “emergency responder” to include practically any worker in the health care supply chain, including workers that do not directly provide health care services.


“As a result, housekeepers, administrative staff, pharmacists, caregivers, and millions of other workers could be forced to work without the protections Congress intended—and did, in fact, provide to them under the law,” Senators Warren and Booker wrote in their letter to Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia.


“We are confused and dismayed that DOL has taken additional steps to potentially strip the newly enacted paid family and sick leave protections from millions of health care workers through an overly broad interpretation of the exclusion included in the statute,” the lawmakers added. “The decision by DOL to attempt to expand exemptions to FFCRA not only undermines clear congressional intent, but is also a disservice to the millions of healthcare workers risking their own health to combat this pandemic.”