(SACRAMENTO) –Senator Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) announced her bipartisan legislation to expand Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits for parents with children dismissed from school due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was approved by the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee. 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 all of California’s 10,000 schools – responsible for the education of 6 million students – have closed due to COVID-19.
“Parents needed this benefit four weeks ago but I am pleased we are closer to ensuring all families can take the time to care for their children while out of school, said Senator Chang. “Parents didn’t ask for their schools to be closed. We need to step up and support them.”
SB 943 is supported by the California State PTA and the California Teachers Association (CTA). In a letter of support a PTA representative stated Senator Chang’s bill, “provides critical support for families during these extraordinary circumstances in which parents are challenged to provide for the care and education of their children during school closures…”
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;
In fact, fewer than half of workers are covered by the Federal Leave program.
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.
SB 943 will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee.