With passage in the House this afternoon, the American Rescue Plan heads to the desk of President Biden for his signature. Included in the package is NTEU-supported language to assist federal employees by providing paid leave for pandemic-related issues.
Federal employees are eligible for up to 600 hours (15 weeks) of COVID-related emergency paid leave if they are required to quarantine, are ill with COVID-19 or caring for a family member incapable of self-care whose care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
The leave can be used to care for a child whose day care is closed or whose regular child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions. It can also be used for school closures or if a school requires or makes optional a virtual learning or hybrid in-person/virtual instruction model. Employees can use this leave to obtain immunization from COVID-19 or for time off due to illness as a result of the immunization.
While this benefit is capped at $1,400 per week, it ensures that no employee will go without income while dealing with pandemic-related issues. It expires on Sept. 30, 2021. NTEU supported this language throughout the process and successfully worked to build opposition to efforts to strip the provisions out of the legislation.
Also included in the bill is a provision that ensures workers’ compensation eligibility for federal employees diagnosed with COVID-19 whose duties require contact with others or other risks of exposure to the virus.
This is an important victory for NTEU members and we are pleased that our support helped ensure that federal employees receive additional paid leave to help care for themselves, their families and their coworkers. Once the president signs it into law, NTEU will start working with federal agencies to make this available as quickly as possible.