Parents with children younger than 12 should be allowed to take paid time off from work to take care of their children when schools suspend in-person classes as a preventive COVID-19 measure, the National Federation of Teachers’ Unions said yesterday.
A local COVID-19 outbreak has shown the virus’ unpredictability and had people worried, the federation said in a statement.
With schools having just reopened, many parents of elementary and junior high-school children are not only concerned about a possible outbreak on campuses, but are also facing pressure from potentially having to take time off from work due to “preventive class suspensions” that could be announced at any time, it said.
Guidelines on the prevention of COVID-19 released by the Ministry of Education state that a class should suspend in-person instruction if one student tests positive for the virus, while the entire school should cancel in-person classes if two students are confirmed, federation president Hou Chun-liang (侯俊良) told a news conference in Taipei.
Preventive class suspensions, which are implemented by local authorities in response to possible COVID-19 cases, should also be included in the ministry’s guidelines, he said.
Workers with young children should be eligible for “disease prevention childcare leave” when preventive class suspension occurs, he said.
Such leaves are especially necessary for parents of children younger than 12 who would be staying at home, he said.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, many parents have used up all of their leave for this year, he said.
To enable parents to balance their financial and childcare responsibilities, the government should offer paid disease prevention childcare leave or salary subsidies, he said.
Some companies have rejected workers’ requests for disease prevention childcare leave when preventive class suspensions take place, the federation’s Early Childhood Education Committee chair Yang Yi-fei (楊逸飛) said, citing feedback the federation has received from teachers.
However, a local labor department reportedly told the federation in a phone call last week that parents are eligible for disease prevention childcare leave when preventive class suspensions are adopted.
The gap in understanding has resulted in confusion among parents, he said, urging the authorities to make the rules uniform.
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