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Not all working parents eligible for paid family leave

Test to Stay could relieve the burden on some families
Posted at 7:46 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 19:47:14-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Chonessey Bishop is a traveling certified nursing assistant and single mother of two children.

Her kids were exposed to COVID-19 at daycare and now must quarantine for 10 days.

When Bishop had to stop working to watch her quarantined children, she found out she was not eligible for paid leave.

"I am able to work but with there being no childcare in place for my children, my question was what is in place for people, what do we do for lost wages," said Bishop.

According to the state, only fulltime “employees who work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment” can receive paid leave.

Part time employees must work "a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week are eligible after working 175 days, which do not need to be consecutive."

Chonessey started her job only three months ago - not meeting the 26 week requirement.

"Where’s the money to support these families, these children to make sure we’re covered when we’re quarantined? We didn’t make the rules but we have to follow them," Bishop added.

We contacted the New York State Department of Labor and were told people can contact their hotline with specific questions to learn about options available for them.

"You have the issue where we’re saying, get New York back to work, get people jobs and things like that. People are afraid to work because if things like this come up into play, what are they to do?"

"I’m working with mothers everyday who are desperately trying to get back into the workforce and this is a real problem for them. What’s happening is if someone in that classroom is testing positive then we see that child is home for up to 10 days," said Carol Murphy, President and CEO of Harvest House.

Murphy believes a widespread test to stay program will help keep kids in the classroom and parents in the office.

"If we do more COVID testing we can keep more kids in the classroom, more kids in the daycare and their parents can go back to work."

Currently, the Grand Island School District is piloting a test-to-stay program. Tests are provided by the Erie County Department of Health through a grant.