Amid COVID-19 School Closures, Jackson Introduces Legislation to Expand Job Protected Leave for Parents

May 08, 2020

SACRAMENTO –As California schools remain shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) announced legislation today to expand job protected leave for working parents affected by school and childcare closures as a result of a declared federal, state, or local emergency.

Senate Bill 1383 would strengthen the Family School Partnership Act to allow all of California’s working parents to take job protected unpaid leave as a result of school closures, childcare or school emergencies. During state of emergencies declared by a federal, state, or local government, the leave could be extended beyond 40 hours a year. Under current law, this job-protected leave is limited to those who work for companies of 25 or more and is capped at 40 hours a year.

“Working parents throughout the state are facing the unique challenge of balancing childcare, distance learning and work responsibilities amid the COVID-19 school closures. Without adequate job-protected leave, too many parents are forced to choose between caring for their children and keeping their job,” said Senator Jackson, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Women, Work and Families. “We need to learn from this health crisis to be better prepared when the next emergency strikes, whether that is a catastrophic wildfire, earthquake or public health emergency. SB 1383 will ensure that all working parents are able to take the time they need to address these challenges without fear of losing their job and jeopardizing their family’s economic security.”

"In times like this, parents should not be forced to count down the hours until they will be fired for caring for their children when no one else is available to provide that necessary care.  SB 1383 would fix that," said Katherine Wutchiett, attorney with Legal Aid at Work, sponsors of SB 1383.

Jackson has long championed policies that support working parents and their children, including her Senate Bill 579, the Family Engagement Act, which became law in 2016 and expanded California’s job-protected family leave program to allow parents to take unpaid time off to find and enroll their children in child care or school in response to child care emergencies. Prior to SB 579, the program was limited to activities such as parent-teacher conferences or school graduations.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.