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Paid Quarantine Leave Bill Receives Committee Approval

State capitol building
Legislation sponsored by Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D - Prince William) would require most employers to provide paid quarantine leave to workers who test positive for COVID-19. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

The full House of Delegates will soon consider a proposal that requires employers to provide two weeks of paid quarantine leave for workers exposed to COVID-19.

The legislation, proposed by Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-Prince William), also affects workers caring for a family member diagnosed with the coronavirus disease.

Guzman said in a committee meeting Thursday that Virginians need guaranteed time off to make sure the highly contagious illness doesn’t spread.

“Virginia workers are forced to choose between their jobs and their family’s health,”  Guzman said.

Advocates for business owners oppose the bill, saying that two weeks of paid leave for all employees could be a strain for smaller businesses.

The proposal would apply to private and public employers, but it excludes businesses with fifty employees or less -- unless they receive federal support for paid leave. Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) says this is dangerous.

“The way this reads, if I have 49 employees, and there’s a federal program that would cover 10% of this cost, that I have to implement it and eat the other 90%,” Davis said.

If it became law, the legislation would expire at the end of the state of emergency declared by Gov. Ralph Northam due to the pandemic.