Many health care workers sickened by COVID-19 are not receiving the paid sick leave anticipated by a federal law passed in March, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, new protections were to be established to ensure that health care workers and others had access to additional paid sick leave for COVID-19-related illnesses.  According to the OIG, however, the Labor Department’s stated exemptions to the March law are overly broad, leaving as many as nine million health care workers without the paid sick leave protections Congress envisioned when it passed the law in March.

The OIG attributed the problem in part to the overly broad interpretation of the March law and in part to inadequate on-site enforcement of requirements by the department’s Wage and Hours Division as the division did more of its work remotely in response to the pandemic.

To address these shortcomings, the OIG recommended changes in the enabling regulations and a revised approach to enforcement.  The Labor Department has agreed with these recommendations.

Learn more about the problems with the law’s implementation, the OIG’s findings, and the Labor Department’s expected response in the Labor Department OIG’s report “COVID-19: WHD Needs to Closely Monitor the Pandemic Impact on its Operations.”