The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development has produced new materials to help parents and guardians determine what income-replacement, paid leave and job protection benefits are available to them if their children’s school or daycare is closed for in-person learning, either full- or part-time.
The DOL says its new webpage provides parents with plain-language explanations of benefits and protections that may be utilized when remote learning is mandatory or for the days that children are required to be at home if they’re attending school on alternate days.
Available benefits include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) — a federal benefit that is paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) — and job-protected leave under New Jersey Family Leave Act.
These benefits are available to a primary caregiver who is unable to work due to their child’s remote learning.
The webpage provides specific examples to help parents and guardians determine which benefit programs could fit their needs.
Here are a couple of answers to frequently asked questions:
Q: If remote learning is “optional” for my child’s school district and I elect to do so, can I get paid leave from my employer?
A: No. Paid leave under PUA or FFCRA is only available for mandatory remote learning.
Q: My child’s district has a hybrid schedule can I get paid leave from my employer?
A: Yes. You are eligible — and you also could be eligible for up to 12 weeks of wage replacement benefits from Family Leave Insurance.
“Working and out-of-work parents and guardians have questions about how to manage work or unemployment benefits when their children must learn remotely,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said. “We are trying to make it as easy as possible to navigate the benefits and protections available to working and nonworking parents and guardians whose children have recently begun a new school year.”
Additionally, an online eligibility tool — Click here to access the tool — helps caregivers determine on-the-spot which benefits they may be eligible for, based on their current work and home situations.
The eligibility tool determines through three questions which benefits and job protections parents and guardians may be eligible for.
The DOL emphasized that paid leave under FFCRA and federal unemployment assistance is available when remote learning is mandatory, not when it’s optional. For children participating in mandated hybrid models — which most New Jersey districts have chosen — these benefits may be available for the days the child is at home.
In addition, many New Jersey residents are covered under the New Jersey Family Leave Act, which provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care for a loved one, including a child, if their school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19.
Here is a link to the DOL’s page that answers frequently asked questions during the COVID-19 pandemic.