RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Paid sick leave for thousands of Virginia home healthcare workers is now a reality.
On Tuesday afternoon, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed House Bill 2137, introduced by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, into law.
Once the bill takes effect on July 1, employers will be required to provide paid sick leave to 30,000 home healthcare workers who work for clients under the state’s Medicaid plan. They will also be banned from retaliating against any employee who decides to take leave.
“When workers have paid sick leave they can take time off when they need it without having to worry about lost wages,” Northam said.
Northam said he was thrilled to sign the bill into law because essential workers need it. He said this is the first step to getting a paid sick leave law in the books in Virginia.
“Home healthcare workers are truly essential workers visiting other people’s home to provide critical healthcare,” Northam said. “They deserve and need this benefit.”
During the ceremonial signing, Del. Guzman (D-31), who championed the bill, said this bill has been a long time coming.
“When I first came to this country with $300 in my pocket and a little girl, I had to make a difficult decision — to leave my child at home alone when she was sick because I did not have paid sick leave.”
When she decided to run for the House of Delegates in 2017, she saw that many Virginians still did not have paid sick leave.
“When workers are forced to go to work with an illness, it not only harms the worker but it creates an unsafe environment for everyone around them,” Del. Guzman said. “This bill is a major step to provide safe workplaces and increase public health.”
The Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn thanked everyone who made this day possible, including Del. Guzman. She said that this is a victory for healthcare workers.
During the health crisis, the issue of paid sick leave within the healthcare community became more apparent, Filler-Corn said.
“Today is unmistakenly a first step towards expansive sick leave policy for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Filler-Corn added.