Coronavirus crisis: California state senator introduces new paid family leave legislation

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A California state senator on Monday announced a proposal that would expand paid family leave benefits for all parents caring for children whose schools are closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Sen. Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, described the emergency leave program enacted by the federal government as limited in scope, adding that SB 943 aims to fill gaps in coverage.

Nearly 99% of California's 10,000 schools, which serve 6 million students, have temporarily shut down due to the COVID-19 emergency, Chang said.

"Federal representatives have stepped up and provided much needed emergency leave for parents, but I'm worried some families will be left behind," she said. "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."

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Paid family leave 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, according to California's Employment Development Department.

The program is currently available to those who are in quarantine or who are caring for someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Paid family leave benefits are not available to parents who need to stay home to care for a child whose school has closed due to COVID-19, according to Chang, who said her bill would make those parents eligible.

Chang said families ineligible for the federal government's emergency leave program include:

  • parents who work for an employer with 500-plus employees;

  • some parents who work for an employer with fewer than 50 employees;

  • any parent with children displaced from school longer than three
    months; and

  • any parent with children displaced from school after December in the event of COVID-19 surges.

Chang said SB 943 currently has a similar sunset date, which could be extended if needed.

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