As coronavirus infection rates skyrocket across the state, many school districts are going back to full-time virtual learning. But that poses a problem for working parents as a temporary paid leave program expires at the end of the year.
Since April, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has let parents take up to 10 weeks of paid leave if their child care provider or school closed for in-person instruction. That created an economic lifeline for parents of young children to keep their jobs.
That expires Dec. 31, although many Indiana school districts will be virtual only through mid-January at least.
Erin Macey, senior policy analyst at the Indiana Institute for Working Families, says the situation could get desperate as parents have to choose between work and family.
“I think unless Congress acts, this could get worse,” Macey said. “Being able to balance what’s being asked of parents right now requires family leave.”
Macey says job losses have already disproportionately affected Hoosier women, especially ones who worked for large companies -- ones with 500 or more employees -- that weren’t covered by the Act.
“They’re trying to negotiate with their employer or they’re just dropping out of the workforce altogether,” she said. “It’s exceptionally difficult, an unbelievable situation that we’re in right now.”
Meanwhile, a new study found that in states like Indiana without family or sick leave laws, the Act may actually prevent more than 400 new COVID-19 infections each day.