Some working parents consider leaving workforce amid pandemic -- here's how they might get paid leave

Some parents may qualify for paid leave through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed last March.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Most parents will agree that working from home and managing a child's remote learning is nearly impossible. Parents are making very tough choices in their professional lives in order to accommodate the lack of childcare.

Six months into the pandemic, parents working from home while taking care of their kids are burnt out.

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When schools announced they would not reopen in the fall for in-person learning, many parents had to make some important decisions and career moves.

Care.com is a service helping families find and manage childcare.

They surveyed 1,000 parents with children under the age of 15. Seventy-three percent of them said they plan to make major changes to their professional lives to address the lack of child care for the current school year, and of those, 15% said they were considering leaving the workforce altogether.

That would be Tommy Bettles. "I am a finance professional working for a software company." That's how Bettles introduced himself.

But this summer, when the family realized that 6-year-old Oliver would not be returning to school for in-person learning, Bettles decided to quit his job to help manage the household, take his daughter to preschool and supervise his son's online education at home.

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"Up to this point, my wife has been the one to make most of the sacrifices in her career for mine, serving as the primary parent, and it was only fair that I do the same. I always wanted an opportunity to return the favor and this seemed like the perfect opportunity," he explained.

Bettles knows that literacy development begins early in a child's life. They require that one-on-one attention.

"I'm worried that Zoom is not going to provide that and there's a big downstream effect as a result," Bettles added.

While he says for now they can manage on one salary, other parents can't.

What many don't know is that they may qualify for paid leave through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed last March.

"If you are a parent and you have a child under the age of 18 whose school or child care has closed, then you are entitled to up to 12 weeks of time away from work for two-thirds pay," said Whitney Pesek, legislative director for Paid Leave for the U.S. Action Fund

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The company you work for can make up the difference to make you whole.

But people who are essential workers don't qualify and your company has to have 500 or less employees.

The act is expected to expire in December. Congress is now trying to pass the Heroes Act, which would extent those benefits, but it's stuck in the Senate.

Those who have decided to leave the workforce hope to eventually return.

"Specific to my situation, perhaps my company would say yeah come on back but I'll stay in the same profession and hopefully people won't mind that there's a little bit of a gap in my employment," expressed Bettles.

Most agree it's risky to leave the work force amid an economic crisis, but many are willing to chance it for the benefit of their children in these trying times.

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