Millions of workers are struggling in the face of the COVID-19 crisis and low-wage workers have been disproportionately impacted. The economic collapse brought on by the pandemic has hit people of color the hardest. This pandemic has exacerbated income inequality caused by long existing systemic racism.
In Illinois, the Shriver Center on Poverty Law is working to advance policies that will support and protect low-wage workers by:
- Providing financial resources to people most in need. In Illinois, we are pushing to get expanded food and cash assistance to people quickly and expand the state Earned Income Credit, while working to ensure that a portion of state fiscal relief dollars goes directly to people through cash payments, including immigrants left out of federal relief.
- Advocating for the Healthy Workplace Act that would require employers to provide paid sick days to employees. About 1.5 million workers in Illinois do not have access to even a single paid sick day. Over 50% of Latino/a/x workers and 36% of Black workers don’t have access to paid sick leave.
- Pushing for paid family and medical leave. High-wage workers have greater access to paid leave than middle- and lower-wage workers. All workers should be able to take paid time to take care of their own illness, to care for an ill family member, due to domestic or sexual violence, for pregnancy or childbirth, to care for a new child in the household, for a need arising out of an active-duty family member in the armed forces, and because of COVID-19.
- Advocating for the enforcement of worker health and safety precautions. Throughout the pandemic many low-wage workers have had to continue in-person work. Agencies at all levels of government must come together to enforce workplace safety laws, regulations, and executive orders.
Everyone should be paid decently and have basic workplace protections so that they can sustain themselves financially, be healthy, and be able to take care of their family.
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