Localities Stepping Up to Provide Paid Leave for Employees

Jun 25, 2020

Lawmakers will be returning to Richmond in August to write a new budget and consider a host of criminal justice reforms. And, they’ll also be considering paid leave.

Earlier this year, members of the General Assembly were very close to passing a bill that would have created a requirement for paid sick days. But in the closing hours of the session lawmakers killed the idea. Now local governments in Virginia are stepping up.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says the timing for offering Fairfax County employees six weeks of paid family and medical leave couldn’t be better. 

“This is an important tool for future recruitment, an important tool for retention," he explains. "And if ever there were a time to appreciate the need for flexibility and family leave it is certainly during a pandemic like this.”

The timing might also work well for Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy. She’s running for governor, but she’ll also be returning to Richmond as a member of the House of Delegates, where she tried to pass a bill creating paid family and medical leave earlier this year. That bill got sent to a study committee. Now, she says, the special session offers a chance to reconsider. 

“I feel confident that the pressure is on, and people are watching," she says. "And they’re going to hold legislators’ feet to the fire, which is going to force a lot of people to take hard but good votes to ensure that we move the ball forward on things like paid sick days and paid family medical leave.”

The special session in August will likely be dominated by criminal justice reform and revised budget forecasts. But the Legislative Black Caucus has also identified paid sick leave as a key priority.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.