The announcement was very strong, but it is deflating as the hours pass. The Minister of Education, Isabel Celaá, affirmed yesterday that the Government was studying two formulas to facilitate conciliation in this return to school marked by the pandemic, for parents who had to take care of their children in case of quarantine. Celaá affirmed that the Executive was considering two options: enable paid leave, which it was supposedly discussing with Labor, or grant sick leave, which it indicated that it was speaking with Health. However, the Social Security and the Ministry of Labor do not give information on this paid leave and this morning the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, stated that Celaá was referring yesterday to the MeCuida Plan, the facilities to reconcile that were approved in this health crisis and that they allow to get absent from the job, but without remuneration. That is, the worker does not go to work, but does not receive any income, since Social Security did not enable any benefit in this regard.
The Government is studying paid leave or sick leave for parents who have to take care of quarantined children
“Minister Celaá, I spoke with her yesterday, she spoke precisely about the MeCuida Plan,” said Minister Yolanda Díaz this Thursday in an interview at RNE. “It’s not about choosing [entre las opciones del permiso retribuido o una baja laboral], we are deploying many tools at the same time. She pointed out the commitment of this Government to alleviate one of the great realities in our country, which is that we have to take care of our sons and daughters and our elders, “added the Minister of Labor.
This statement confirms the uncertainty about that supposed paid leave that was being negotiated, according to Celaá, and about which yesterday they did not give details in the Ministry of Labor or in the Ministry of Social Security. Isabel Celaá affirmed that both mechanisms (leave and sick leave) had already been deployed during the pandemic, which led to think that she was referring to to recoverable paid leave, whereby companies paid wages to their workers who could not telecommute during the economic stoppage from March 20 to April 9 in exchange for recovering the hours later.
However, yesterday at Work they did not confirm the study of this permit and sent it to Social Security in case it was a benefit, since it is the body responsible for these. In the Ministry of Social Security for its part they redirected to Education and the negotiation that is being carried out with the Autonomous Communities on the return to school and that has been resumed this Thursday.
Yesterday afternoon, the Ministry of Education itself lowered the tone on the measures for conciliation announced for parents. “It is beginning to be addressed and we will see if it is possible,” government sources settled this Wednesday.
The economic vice president, Nadia Calviño, has drained the bulge this morning in an interview in Public Mirror, in which she has been asked about these two options announced by Celaá. “We have to be aware that all the measures that are adopted have an impact in terms of costs,” said Calviño, who pointed out that “our priority is for schools to reopen” and stressed that “families with fewer resources they are the ones that have the most difficulties for children to follow distance education “. Calviño also stressed that “the support of families has been one of the absolute priorities from the beginning.”
In any case, the Minister of Labor has not ruled out that the Executive may take more measures to favor the care of minors and work-life balance in this atypical school year due to COVID-19. “The necessary measures will be deployed so that we can take care of the sons and daughters, of the teachers, to be able to preserve one of the most important values, which is education,” said Yolanda Díaz.
Work confirms the extension of the MeCuida plan
The head of the Ministry of Labor has reiterated a message of “tranquility” for parents at the beginning of the year. “Why do I say tranquility? Today we have the MeCuida Plan, which is in force until September 22,” the minister recalled and has assured that it is one of the measures that will be extended in the next negotiation with unions and employers. “I convey tranquility, the MeCuida Plan will continue,” he insisted.
This plan consists of several legal options for labor conciliation that the Ministry of Labor legislated at the beginning of the health emergency and that allow the worker to adapt the working day to be able to care for minors or elderly dependents, either with the request for shift changes or with another type of work (such as teleworking ), as well as the possibility of reducing your day to care, even reaching 100% of the schedule. This last option, for which the worker does not go to his or her position, is not compensated with an economic benefit, so that different groups have criticized not truly an option for low-income households, who cannot afford such reduced income.
In addition, Díaz recalled that there is already the possibility of sick leave due to quarantine due to COVID-19 for the cases of parents whose children are positive and must be isolated in a preventive way. What does not exist, and is the key to the discussion at this time, is a discharge (or another benefit) for parents in case the minors have to be quarantined for a contact with a positive for coronavirus, for example, a classmate.
The announcement of a paid leave to care, as he has now mentioned Isabel Celaá, was already on the government table in the past and was announced by the Minister of Social Security, José Luis Escrivá, but it was finally discarded. At the beginning of the pandemic, Escrivá announced a paid leave by Social Security so that workers without access to telework could be absent to take care of their children, when the closure of schools was located in very few Autonomous Communities. The generalized situation of suspension of the school year throughout the country, extended in time and not as something temporary, made the scenario envisaged in Social Security be “overcome” by the circumstances of the pandemic, the minister later pointed out.
Once again, time will tell if the new announcement of a paid leave to care for a member of the Government comes to nothing or is finally specified as a new measure to alleviate the effects of the pandemic.