September 26, 2020

The Government is studying paid leave or sick leave for parents who have to care for quarantined children



The Minister of Education, Isabel Celaá, has affirmed that the Government is looking for a formula to ensure income for workers who have to stay at home to take care of their children in case of quarantine due to coronavirus. Celaá has explained that the Executive is considering two options: paid leave for these cases, such as The world has advanced and for which Education is talking to the Ministry of Labor, or a sick leave that allows parents to be absent, which is discussed with the Ministry of Health.

The Minister of Education has reported on these two options in an interview this morning on Cadena Ser, where she has addressed doubts about going back to school in the coming weeks in the midst of coronavirus outbreaks. One of them consists of what solution can be given to working parents when a child has to quarantine at home for having been in contact with someone positive for COVID-19.

Celaá has explained these two options for absences of minors under “13 years old”, a paid leave or a sick leave, which would ensure income to parents who cannot go to their jobs and would justify their absence from work in the companies. A few days before the start of the school day, the minister insisted that there is still time to approve the mechanism by which the Government finally chooses since both are tools that have already been applied and are known.

In the case of paid leave, Isabel Celaá has not detailed what type it would be. In general, paid leave in labor law justifies the employee’s absence from work while she continues to receive her salary, for example, due to the death of a relative, without the worker having to make up this absence. For the special case of the pandemic, the Ministry of Labor created the figure of recoverable paid leave for salaried workers (not self-employed) who could not telework during the economic stoppage decreed between March 30 and April 9 for all non-essential activities. The employees received their salary for these days, but those hours of work were pending to be recovered later.

Given that the quarantines for COVID-19 are two weeks, it seems more likely that the Executive will opt for this second option in case of opting for paid leave, so that employees would have to make up the days of absence later. This permit, if the one approved at the end of March is taken into consideration, leaves the self-employed without protection.

The other option that the Minister of Education has mentioned is sick leave. So far, the Government has approved sick leave due to COVID-19 for workers who have to keep preventive quarantines due to the virus, which are assimilated to work accidents and therefore better paid than sick leave. As with the permit, the minister has not specified whether the losses that the Executive is studying for the care of minors in quarantine would be of this type or another type of loss.

Feminist groups have recently asked the Executive to cover these absences from work so that the care in the quarantines of minors is justified and paid. There is a danger, they warn, that this care falls largely on women, which could put their jobs and income at risk.

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