Government to offer financial aid to families if children need to isolate
New academic year starting September 14 will provide huge test in pivotal month for health crisis
As the new school year approaches, worries remain over logistical issues in the event of any children infected with or suspected to have Covid-19 are forced to self-isolate.
On Thursday, the Catalan government made a step toward resolving some of these doubts with the announcement that they will be making financial aids of up to €300 available for vulnerable families without access to benefits such as sick leave if children have to quarantine at home.
The move was announced by the minister of labor, social affairs, and families, Chakir el Homrani, who explained that the Catalan government plans to initially allocate €10 million to the initiative, with the possibility of the total amount increasing if necessary.
For now, the government estimates that this fund will benefit around 33,000 families, and el Homrani explains that the aid is intended for parents "who have difficulties or do not have access to benefits" either because they have intermittent contracts, they can not access sick leave, or do not have a protected income.
In many cases, parents would be forced to look after the children at home, thus preventing them from working if it is impossible to perform the job remotely.
Last week, the Spanish labor minister, Yolanda Díaz, suggested that parents avail of flexible or reduced working hours if they have to take time off to look after children in quarantine due to Covid-19 contact, but avoided specifying that paid leave would be option, as suggested by Spanish education minister Isabel Celaá.
The measure Díaz referred to, of flexible or reduced hours, has been in place since March when a state of alarm was declared, but it doesn't provide payment to those forced to work fewer hours.
Catalan government calls for extension to temporary layoff scheme
Elsewhere, the Catalan government hopes to have the temporary layoff (ERTE) payments extended as an extra measure to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Josep Ginesta, the general secretary of the department of labor, requested to the Spanish government to have a "long look" and approve the extensions for next year.
Ginesta says the Catalan government’s priority is "keeping jobs" and "preventing companies from closing," but ultimately the decision lies with Madrid. Currently, the payment plan ends at the end of September.
"We believe that the solution to this is to extend the temporary layoff payments to prevent them from ending up becoming definitive employment regulation files," he explained.
In total, around 300,000 jobs are affected by the health crisis across Catalonia. Of those, 170,242 are still enlisted in the temporary layoff scheme.