Meng Introduces Legislation to Provide Relief for Working Families with Young Children Participating in Optional Virtual or Hybrid Learning Models
Dec 11, 2020
Congresswoman calls for paid leave and her measure to be included in the next coronavirus relief bill as Senate negotiates aid package
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced today that she introduced the Access To Home-based Options and More Ease with Learning Act – or the AT HOME Learning Act – to help families with young children balance work and remote learning responsibilities.
The first COVID-19 relief package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that became law on March 18, 2020, created a temporary paid leave program for many working families. Under this initiative, employees could take up to two weeks of emergency paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of emergency family medical leave. Specifically, under the FFCRA, eligible employees may take paid leave when a minor child’s school or place of care are closed. On August 27, 2020, however, the Department of Labor published guidance which excludes families from accessing the FFCRA leave program if the family chooses virtual learning when given an option to send the child to in-person school or if the school is operating on an alternate or hybrid-attendance model.
As such, the AT HOME Learning Act would:
Amend the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provisions to include leave for employees who are unable to work due to children being enrolled in optional virtual or hybrid learning environments; and,
Extend these benefits through the end of the 2020-2021 academic year – to June 25, 2021. Current benefits are set to expire on December 31, 2020.
“As a mom of two young boys, I am extremely concerned about the stress and strain that this pandemic has on working families. It has forced parents, especially moms, to be a full-time worker, caregiver, and teacher,” said Congresswoman Meng. “These moms are bearing the burden of this pandemic. We have heard the heartbreaking realities of working moms, especially those with younger children, leaving the labor force in droves. The majority of women are facilitating remote learning for their younger children – which negatively impacts their careers. In fact, 80 percent of mothers of kids under 12 years of age have said they are the lead parent supervising remote learning. As I have heard from moms everywhere: something has to give, before something ultimately breaks. That is why my bill would provide relief to working parents who choose to opt for virtual learning if they have vulnerable household members, or their school operates in a hybrid learning model. It would increase parents’ options to select the learning plan that best meets the health needs of their families. It would allow them to balance work responsibilities and schoolwork, while providing financial relief.”
“No parent should have to choose between the health of their family or the health of their child’s education,” added Meng. “But we know that paid leave is one of the best tools to fighting the pandemic. That is why paid leave must be at the table of any COVID-19 negotiations. I urge support of my legislation, and call on my colleagues to not let paid leave expire for millions of working families.”
“We applaud Congresswoman Meng for her leadership in addressing the caregiving and remote learning challenges that mothers, who are more likely to shoulder the child care responsibilities, are facing during the pandemic,” said Erika L. Moritsugu, Vice President for Congressional Relations at the National Partnership for Women and Families. “The AT HOME Learning Act establishes critical paid leave and paid sick day policies to ensure that women who lack caregiving options can take the time off that they need to support their children without being forced to leave the workforce. This bill would go a long way towards helping the one in four women who have children at home and are struggling to meet the dual demands of work and family.”
The AT HOME Learning Act is endorsed by the National Partnership for Women and Families.
A copy of the legislation can be viewed here.