US senators urge employers to protect employees during coronavirus outbreak

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — On Friday, President Trump signed the $8.3-billion funding package Congress authorized to combat the coronavirus.

But, some in Washington worry that won’t cover all the costs.

“The $8.3 billion alone deals more with the healthcare side, not the economic side,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said.

Warner is one of more than a dozen senators calling on businesses to protect and not punish employees impacted by the virus.

‚ÄúThis is the right thing to do, it is the fair thing to do. I believe most businesses will support this but they need to send that message now before people are sent home,” Warner said.

In an open letter to industry groups, the senators asked employers to allow workers to stay home from work to care for themselves or a loved one, without using sick time. They also asked employers to ensure their insurance plans cover virus-related treatments.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) says sick employees shouldn’t feel pressure to come into work.

“Employers should be telling employees, and we’ve certainly told our staff this, if you are sick, stay home until you are better,” Kaine said.

Both Warner and Kaine say low-income employees make up the group most likely to be sick on the job because they can’t afford to stop working.

“If that low-income worker works taking care of your grandma at a nursing home or the maintenance at a hospital, that puts not only that individual but all of our families at risk,” Warner said.

The senators say they are confident employers will see the benefits of taking these steps for their business and the country.

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