With at least ten coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania, State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks) is proposing legislation to protect the jobs of quarantined individuals.
Specifically, the bill would prevent an employer from taking action against an employee who must self-isolate during a public health emergency. While other states have bills to prevent retaliation against workers forced into quarantine, Pennsylvania does not.
“We could have workers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at risk of losing their jobs if, because of the spread of the virus, they are forced to isolate or be quarantined for an extended period of time,” said Santarsiero.
Tom Tosti, President of Bucks County Council AFL-CIO, noticed the “loophole.” He said an article showing different states throughout the country with similar worker protections did not list PA.
Tosti noted even people who were not sick could face termination from their job. If they live in a quarantined area, they could be forced to stay home.
“You could have a nurse who was exposed to somebody who had the virus, and then he or she would be quarantined,” said Tosti. “But then they might not have a job when they return 14 days later.”
So, Tosti reached out to Santarsiero. He thanked the senator for doing the “leg work” on the bill.”
“We are facing a pandemic with COVID-19,” said Santarsiero.
“No one should have to fear losing their job when they are forced to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spreading of viruses, for the sake of their own wellbeing and the health of the public.”
The senator will also be hosting a telephone town hall on the coronavirus this Thursday, Mar. 12. At 7:15p.m., Drs. Umar Farooq and Michael Kimzey will join to answer questions from the public.
People can listen live on a mobile device or computer here. Anyone with a question about the coronavirus can submit their question here. Those who want to sign up on their phone can text SENSANTARSIERO” to 833-TXT-LIVE (833-898-5483).
Santarsiero published the bill Monday. Five senators have already signed on as co-sponsors.
- Tim Kearney (D),
- Katie Muth (D),
- Bob Mensch (R),
- Maria Collett (D),
- Tina Tartaglione (D).