(SACRAMENTO) –Senator Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) announced legislation today that will expand Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits for all parents caring for children dismissed from school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government recently enacted emergency leave programs for parents but it is limited and leaves some families without options. Senate Bill 943 will fill gaps in coverage left by the temporary federal programs. Nearly 99% of California’s 10,000 schools – responsible for the education of 6 million students – have closed due to COVID-19.
“Federal representatives have stepped up and provided much needed emergency leave for parents, but I’m worried some families will be left behind,” said Senator Chang. “School closures are not the choice of parents and we need to ensure everyone is protected from the economic damage COVID-19 is imposing on us all.”
Paid Family Leave (PFL) provides benefits to individuals who need to take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member and to parents who need time to bond with a new child. PFL is currently available to those who are in quarantine or who are caring for someone diagnosed with COVID-19. However, PFL benefits are not available to parents who need to stay home to care for a child whose school has closed due to COVID-19. SB 943 will make those parents eligible.
While the Federal government has authorized an emergency leave program it is temporary and leaves some parents out. Some of the families ineligible for the federal program include:
- Parents who work for an employer with 500+ employees;
- Some parents who work for an employer with fewer than 50 employees;
- Any Parent with children displaced from school longer than 3 months;
- Any parent with children displaced from school after December 2020 due to COVID-19 surges (SB 943 currently has a similar sunset date but will be extended).
Currently SB 943 provides eligibility to all parents with children displaced by school closures but will be amended in the coming weeks to target the gaps in the federal program. Senator Chang is also reviewing whether State PFL should be used on top of federal benefits to make families financially whole during the COVID-19 crisis. The federal COVID-19 program permits two-thirds the regular amount of pay and limited to $200 a day and a total of $10,000.
“With every school in the state closed, parents are taking a huge hit right now,” said Senator Chang. “Similar to the forthcoming federal stimulus program, putting extra funds in the hands of families would help keep our economy afloat.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused, and will continue to cause, unprecedented changes for all Californians. Senator Chang supported critical funding as a response to the crisis and will continue to work on mitigating the issues that present in the coming weeks/months.