If you earn a decent income but have trouble saving, the culprits could be the roof over your head and the car in your driveway.
Retirement savers who contribute more to their 401(k)s often spend less on housing and transportation than their peers, according to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
Better savers also spend less on food and drink, but housing and transportation are bigger expenses that tend to be less flexible. Once you commit to a place to live and a car payment, you’re typically stuck with those expenses for a while.
“It may be decisions that you’re making as you are building your life that will ultimately crowd out saving for retirement,” says Katherine Roy, chief retirement strategist for J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
The researchers divided 10,000 households into three groups: the 25% who contributed the least to their retirement plans, the 25% who contributed the most, and the “middle savers” whose contributions landed them in the middle 50%. High savers, not surprisingly, had higher incomes than the other two groups. Middle and low savers had similar incomes, but middle savers contributed about 5% at the start of their careers while the low savers contributed about 2%.
That 3 percentage-point difference in contributions is largely attributable to the lower savers spending more on housing, transportation, and food and beverage, the researchers found. By retirement age, middle savers had accumulated savings equal to twice their salaries. Low savers had accumulated about half as much.
A ‘beater’ truck and a fat 401(k)
Driving older vehicles and owning a modest home are the top two sacrifices cited in a study of Principal Financial Group customers ages 20 to 54 who contribute big chunks of their income to retirement accounts.
One of those savers is Erryn Ross, 30, of Tigard, Oregon. For several years after college, the accounts receivable coordinator lived at home and drove a “beater” truck, a hand-me-down from his dad. By the time he was ready to replace the truck, he had saved enough to pay cash for a new one while also maxing out his 401(k) contribution.
Ross credits his mother — who drives a 2002 Honda Accord, previously owned by her father — with getting him started.
“She said, ‘OK, you can either pay me $1,000 for rent, or you can put $1,000 in index funds every month,’” Ross says. He put the money into his retirement account.
Ross recently bought a house with his fiancée, and they chose a home that cost about half of what their lender said they could afford. They figured out how much they felt comfortable spending each month and based their purchase on that amount.
“I don’t really need a million-dollar home here,” Ross says. “I just need something that’s going to house the family.”
It’s not all about choice
Both studies have their limitations. Perhaps the biggest one is that the researchers studied only people who had access to workplace retirement plans. Before the pandemic, 55 million working Americans lacked such access, according to Georgetown University Center for Retirement Initiatives. Access makes a huge difference: AARP found that people are 15 times more likely to save for retirement if they have access to a payroll deduction plan at work.
The researchers also didn’t factor in the cost of living, which varies widely across the country. Living expenses are 46% higher in San Francisco and 86% higher in Manhattan than in Portland, Oregon, for example.
People’s personal costs of living matter hugely as well. Someone with health problems and lousy insurance likely will have more of their income eaten up by medical bills than someone in excellent health who has good coverage. The number of people you have to support — children, elderly parents, for example — affects how much you can save. People with student loan debt have less discretionary income than those whose parents paid for college. And so on.
Income matters, of course. Some people save on small incomes, while others don’t on large ones. But the more money you make, the easier it is to save.
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris promised Thursday that a Biden-Harris administration would make college tuition free at public schools and private historically Black colleges and universities for students whose families’ income is below $125,000 a year, and pledged student-loan debt forgiveness for some graduates of HBCUs.
“In relation to the history of HBCUs, [students] decide to take on a profession of service, which often does not pay as well as if they go into the private sector and do other things,” Harris said at a roundtable discussion held at Florida Memorial University, a historically Black private university. “So for those students who come out and have jobs that pay less than $125,000, student-loan debt will also be forgiven.”
Harris also promised to invest $70 billion in historically Black colleges and universities.
Additionally, she said that two-year college programs would be free for low-income Americans.
“We want to support our young people for whatever they pursue by way of education after high school,” Harris said. “For some that will be a college and university, for some it will be a two-year program, or an apprenticeship, or something of that nature, and we want to make sure that we support them in that quest.”
Harris made the remarks in response to Jaffus Hardrick, president of Florida Memorial University, who said that “we are literally working on a shoestring budget” amid the economic decline caused by the pandemic that has forced many students to reconsider attending college.
Her remarks came in the key swing state of Florida, where 29 electoral votes are up for grabs, the most among any of the major swing states. Former President Barack Obama claimed the state by a thin margin in the 2008 and 2012 elections. President Donald Trump, however, won it in the 2016 election.
In a RealClearPolitics moving average of polls focused on top swing states that are likely to decide the election, Democrat Joe Biden had an edge of 3.9 percentage points over Trump as of Thursday, but his edge in Florida was just 1.2 points.
Before addressing the roundtable, Harris took a jab at Trump, citing the interview he had with Bob Woodward where he said “I wanted to always play it down,” referring to the threat of the looming pandemic.
“He suggested that to wear a mask is a sign of weakness as opposed to a sign of strength,” she said. “This is the president of the United States.”
Earlier in the day, Harris visited Doral, a neighborhood of Miami with a high concentration of Venezuelans.
It didn’t take a pandemic for Sharon Danks to recognize the benefits of outdoor learning.
In fact, she started researching the environmental, physical and mental-health benefits of outdoor learning more than two decades before founding the nonprofit Green Schoolyards America seven years ago.
Before the pandemic, Danks partnered primarily with individual schools in districts near Berkeley, Calif., where the organization is based.
The pandemic, she said, has only strengthened the case for outdoor learning nationwide, especially given the amount of scientific research suggesting that the outdoors is less hospitable to the coronavirus than indoors where air circulation is significantly more limited.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that schools “consider using outdoor space, weather-permitting, to enable social distancing.” The agency specifically recommends having lunch outside in place of in a communal cafeteria or otherwise eating within classrooms.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has also urged schools to find ways to offer as many outdoor activities as possible. “Get as much outdoors as you can,” he said in a Facebook FB, -0.06%
live event in August. “If you look at the superspreader events that have occurred, they’re almost always inside.”
Weather permitting, others have opted for tents that look more like they’re going to welcome wedding guests instead of children and teachers. Another school simply uses a circle of tree stumps.
“Nature is something that has been proven to decrease stress levels, and, during this pandemic, there has so much stress and trauma,” Danks said. What’s more, not all school buildings have enough space for children to maintain the recommended six feet of social distance.
“Outside not only do you have air that isn’t recirculating, but kids don’t have to stay in assigned seats all day and can actually move around,” she said.
Many schools recognized that back in March when they shifted to virtual instruction and reached out to Danks inquiring about how they, too, could create outdoor learning environments in preparation for the fall.
The overwhelming amount of inquiries she received led her to partner with three other nonprofits to form a National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative that provides schools with templates for how to construct an outdoor classroom, lesson plans and other tools with the support of more than 400 landscaping, design and educational volunteers.
One problem she noticed: “The bigger the institution, the longer it takes to change direction. Smaller schools such as single-district public schools and independent nonprofit private schools are doing this much more quickly because they don’t need to ask for permission.”
Not all schools have parent-teacher associations
But school size isn’t the only thing holding back schools from building outdoor classrooms in parts of the country where in-person learning is allowed to take place.
For children with special needs, for example, an outdoor learning environment poses a slew of problems, said Mindy Rosier-Rayburn, an elementary special-education science teacher at the Mickey Mantle School in New York City.
As of Friday nearly 800 schools in the city were approved to offer outdoor learning.
The New York City Department of Education did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment regarding efforts to level the playing field for lower-income schools that would like to offer outdoor learning, but can’t because they lack the funds to do so.
When Mayor Bill de Blasio gave city public schools the go-ahead in late August to offer outdoor learning in streets and parks near schools, Rosier-Rayburn recognized that there would be a “glaring equity issue” for schools in higher-income neighborhoods versus lower-income ones like the school district she teaches at, in Harlem.
“The comments I heard early on were that PTAs can help pay for these things,” she said, “but my school doesn’t even have a PTA, and there are so many others that don’t.”
“We are a Title 1 school,” she said. This type of school typically has a high concentration of children from low-income families and receives federal grants. All students attending Mickey Mantle School qualify for free lunch, she said.
When Rosier-Rayburn started teaching science remotely in the spring, she said, “I didn’t even feel comfortable asking parents to get supplies to do science experiments. If the experiment involves something I think they had at home, I tried to do that.”
Even if Rosier-Rayburn’s school had access to funds to purchase tents and other outdoor items, it would be a nightmare for her and her fellow teachers.
“We have several children who are runners, and that terrifies us. In a building you can control the situation, but outside you can’t,” Rosier-Rayburn, who has been a special-education teacher for nearly 24 years, told MarketWatch.
“We’re always on guard — just like when people enter a room they look for the exit and nearest bathroom, we constantly have to think: What could a student possibly hurt themselves with? That’s why outside learning is the worst idea.”
Additionally, she said several autistic students “could have sensitivity to sounds like honking horns.” Another concern: Some children “tend to put everything in their mouths.”
Plans are still up in the air for the upcoming school year, which in New York City is slated to begin on Sept. 21 after the school date was pushed back when the United Federation Teachers, a labor union composed primarily of public school teachers, threatened to strike over safety concerns relating to in-person learning.
For all of the above reasons, Rosier-Rayburn said she’ll continue teaching remotely, since she has received a medical accommodation to do so.
(The UFT did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for a comment.)
Cara Sclafani, a parent of two children who attend P.S. 185, a New York City Title 1 public elementary school, also located in Harlem, has health-related reservations about even sending them back for partial in-person learning certain days each week during an ongoing public health crisis.
As co-chair of the District 3 Green Schools Group, a coalition of parent volunteers who represent Manhattan’s Upper West Side and parts of central Harlem, advocating for outdoor education, Sclafani has advocated outdoor learning as much as possible.
Over a year ago, she successfully received two grants from New York City nonprofits to transform a deserted lot on school grounds that was “pretty much overrun with weeds,” she said, into a school garden and outdoor learning area.
Last year, she said, it was always a challenge to get teachers to wander outside of the classroom, “even though we set up this nice area for them with a tree canopy, benches and a reading library.”
And now? “The teachers are going to bring their students outside at least once a day,” Sclafani told MarketWatch. “Whether it’s just to read a book, paint or have physical education outside.”
She considers these types of activities “easy wins” to accomplish. Ultimately, however, she and other members of D3GSG are working on a “long-term vision” of having a “full-blown outdoor learning program” by the spring of 2021.
Sclafani said she was directly inspired by a Green Schoolyards America workshop she attended in June about constructing an outdoor learning environment. The organization, she said, has helped redesign P.S. 185’s outdoor learning space. She is on the infrastructure team at Green Schoolyards and is helping advise other schools across the county.
”Having outdoor learning at P.S.185 is a key factor for my family in determining whether or not my kids will attend in-person learning. We don’t have the school schedule yet, but I am hopeful my kids will be getting outside for at least a couple hours every day.”
The midsize luxury SUV segment is extremely competitive. This is an area where almost every luxury brand has a seat at the table and they all have different sets of strengths and weaknesses. Some are better off-road, some are all about on-road performance and some are more family-oriented with roomy 3-row seating. Whatever you’re looking for in a midsize luxury SUV, you’ll find something perfect for your wants, your needs and your budget on this list.
Here are the best midsize luxury SUVs for 2020, ranked.
1. Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
Score: 4.8 / 5
Mercedes-Benz has been working on midsize luxury SUVs for quite some time and the all-new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is the closest that the brand has come to truly perfecting this formula.
In classic Mercedes-Benz fashion, the GLE-Class seamlessly combines high-end luxury with engaging performance and in this case, it’s wrapped in a practical and stylish SUV that’s just the right size. The interior is arguably the nicest in this class and it’s packed with the latest technology in both safety and infotainment. One of its few faults is a cramped optional third row of seats.
This SUV makes more sense with the standard 2-row configuration. We admit, sometimes the technology can get in its own way. If you prefer just the basics when it comes to lowering the interior temperature, you might not like the Benz setup here. Still, this is an excellent midsize luxury SUV. It’s a little pricey for this class with a starting MSRP of $54,250, but it’s so good that the price tag is justified. The GLE was on our list of the best cars of 2019.
2. Audi Q8
Score: 4.8 / 5
When a luxury brand comes out with an “SUV coupe,” it usually means making big compromises on practicality to get a more stylish body. However, the Audi A8 is a sleek SUV with a sloping roofline that also manages to have generous passenger space and plenty of cargo space. Its interior is breathtaking, with a high-end design and quality materials throughout, and its sharp handling makes it feel like a smaller car. All-wheel drive is standard, which improves all-season traction.
Many of us prefer the equally spectacular Q7 but that’s largely a matter of individual taste. The starting price is high at $68,200, but it comes generously equipped with standard features, delivering a truly luxurious experience.
3. BMW X5
Score: 4.8 / 5
The BMW X5 is one of the original midsize luxury SUVs and in 2020, it’s still one of the best. We know it’s cliché to call it “the BMW of SUVs,” but it’s an accurate way to describe this luxurious crossover with agile handling and a powerful engine lineup. A third row of seats is optional, but they’re a bit cramped and we’d recommend a different SUV on this list if you need extra seats.
Where this BMW BMWYY, +1.62%
excels is in the fun-to-drive factor while also serving up practicality with its roomy cargo hold and its intuitive infotainment system. The starting price of $58,900 puts it on the expensive side, but it’s well worth it for the right driver.
4. Audi Q7
Score: 4.7 / 5
The Audi Q7 is right up there with its chief competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz in terms of interior opulence, stately styling and agile handling. The Q7 features standard 3-row seating, but like most of its competitors, space in the third row is quite tiny. The Q7 received a nice mid-cycle refresh for 2020 which includes updated styling, a dual-screen infotainment system, a new mild-hybrid setup for the V6 engine and the debut of the high-performance SQ7 for drivers looking for some extra punch under the hood. Like the Q8, AWD is standard on the Q7. Pricing is a little steep starting at $54,800, but like its other German competitors, it’s worth it for drivers who appreciate the finer things in life.
5. Acura MDX
Score: 4.6 / 5
The Acura MDX is arguably the strongest value of any SUV on this list with its attractive starting MSRP of $44,500. It’s also a family-friendly choice, with standard 3-row seating that actually has some decent room in the third row. The interior design is getting a little dated and it’s not quite as premium as many of its rivals, but it’s nice considering the price tag.
The standard V6 engine delivers an excellent balance of performance and fuel economy, but if you’re looking for something even more efficient, there’s a Sport Hybrid variant available which improves both performance and efficiency and throws in standard AWD. The hybrid starts at $52,800, which is still more affordable than many non-hybrid rivals. Find an Acura MDX for sale
6. Volvo XC90
Score: 4.6 / 5
In terms of interior quality, the 2020 Volvo XC90 is just as nice as more expensive German rivals while carrying a competitive starting MSRP of $48,350. That price is even more attractive when you consider the long list of standard technology and safety features in this handsome Volvo VLVLY, +2.72%
This is a great 3-row luxury crossover for families with its roomy cabin with standard 3-row seating and a generous cargo area to boot. The XC90 gets some slight tweaks for 2020, including revised styling and, finally, available seating for six with second-row captain’s chairs. The base engine is good on gas but a bit lacking in performance and we prefer the T6 powertrain setup. Find a Volvo XC90 for sale
7. Porsche Cayenne
Score: 4.5 / 5
The 2020 Porsche Cayenne is still fresh off a 2019 redesign and introduces a new “coupe” body style for 2020. The Cayenne checks every box you would expect from a Porsche SUV. It’s fast, it’s luxurious and it carries styling that makes it unmistakable as a Porsche.
You could upgrade to one of the hotter available engines, but most drivers will be more than satisfied with the standard turbocharged engine and standard AWD. Unsurprisingly for a Porsche, the Cayenne is toward the top of the price range in this segment with a starting MSRP of $66,800, making it good for drivers to prioritize performance over value.
8. Lexus RX
Score: 4.5 / 5
The 2020 Lexus RX is a favorite among drivers looking for a midsize luxury SUV that is safe, comfortable, reliable and efficient. There aren’t a lot of surprises with the RX and for many drivers, that’s a good thing. The interior is very nice and the ride is gentle, making it a good commuter with the versatility of an SUV. A third row of seats is available in the form of the RXL, but the optional extra seats don’t offer much legroom. The RX is a great family SUV as long as you don’t really need a third row. Value is the name of the game with a starting MSRP of $44,150, while the thrifty RX Hybrid starts at just $46,245.
9. Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Score: 4.3 / 5
If you’ve always wanted a Range Rover but you also want available three-row seating and a more affordable price, then the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is the luxury SUV for you. With standard 4-wheel drive, the Range Rover Sport doesn’t skimp on the off-road performance that its name promises, and its range of powerful engines gives it outstanding on-road performance as well.
The interior is comfortable and nicely designed, but the cargo area is a bit tight. Mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid options were added for 2020, making this SUV a little greener. Base price for a Range Rover Sport is just under $70,000.
10. Infiniti QX60
Score: 4.2 / 5
Looking for a luxury midsize SUV with third-row seating you can actually use? The 2020 Infiniti QX60 isn’t as opulent or sporty as some of its rivals, but it’s one of the most family-friendly crossovers in this class with a standard third row that is easy to access thanks to sliding second-row seats.
Adding to its family-friendliness is good cargo space, an available rear-seat entertainment system and a coveted Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The standard V6 is strong and good for family-hauling while also being pretty good on gas. It’s also a strong value, with a starting MSRP of $44,350. Even upgrading to the Luxe AWD model still keeps the price under $50k.
11. Land Rover Range Rover Velar
Score: 4.2 / 5
Sitting above the Evoque and below the Range Rover Sport in the Range Rover lineup is the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar. This 2-row midsize SUV exudes elegance inside and out with posh styling and a composed ride. A new V8 engine making a whopping 550 horsepower joins the Velar lineup for 2020, making this Range Rover more competitive with high-performance German luxury SUVs. Four-wheel drive is standard and its off-road capabilities are better than you might expect for such a fashionable SUV. Its starting price of $56,300 is a bit steep considering some of its more modern German rivals with nicer interiors and similar prices.
12. Lincoln Aviator
Score: 4.1 / 5
The roomy 2020 Lincoln Aviator is another family-friendly choice in midsize luxury SUVs with standard 3-row seating. It’s one of the most stylish SUVs in this segment with a gorgeous exterior and a more opulent interior than you might expect. It’s also quite advanced technologically with one of the best infotainment systems in this class.
The ride is comfy and the standard twin-turbo V6 engine pumping out 400 hp is fantastic, but when it comes to handling, some rivals are more agile. It starts at a reasonable $51,100 and the higher-performance Grand Touring plug-in hybrid variant starts at $68,800. The all-new Aviator is the only vehicle from a luxury brand to earn a spot on our Best New Cars for 2020 list.
13. Maserati Levante
Score: 4.1 / 5
Maserati performance and style come in a versatile midsize SUV in the form of the 2020 Maserati Levante. The Levante offers two incredible Ferrari-built engines under the hood, a 345-hp twin-turbo V6 and a 590-hp twin-turbo V8. Think of it like a high-end sport sedan but with an SUV body. The Levante also has sharp handling and it just might have the most satisfying exhaust note of any SUV on this list. However, its $72,990 base price makes the interior quality feel a bit lacking. The Porsche Cayenne is arguably a better value for a performance-oriented midsize luxury SUV.
All-new for 2020, the BMW X6 has a sleek coupe-like body that looks cool but results in a compromise of practicality. The seats are super-comfortable, but the steep roofline cuts into the cargo area quite a bit while also hurting rear visibility. That said, the cabin is extremely well-designed and full of high-end materials plus a long standard features list. It has a lineup of very strong engines, but as comfortable and as fast as it is, its 6-figure starting MSRP of $108,600 is hard to justify. The BMW X5 M is slightly cheaper, much more practical and delivers 567 hp that you’re unlikely to get bored with.
15. Cadillac XT5
Score: 4.0 / 5
The Cadillac XT5 is a competitively priced midsize 2-row luxury SUV that takes the fight directly to the Lexus RX but can’t quite match its Japanese rival. The XT5 is a good SUV with a sharp aesthetic, a comfortable ride and a strong predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power. It got some nice updates for 2020 including a new infotainment system, a new turbocharged base engine that is good on gas and a stylish new Sport trim. Where the XT5 is lacking is interior quality and tight back seat headroom for a midsize SUV. It’s attractively priced starting at $44,095, but similarly-priced Japanese luxury SUVs are better buys.
16. Lincoln Nautilus
Score: 3.9 / 5
The Lincoln Nautilus is another American 2-row luxury SUV that takes a shot at the Lexus RX and makes a good effort but falls a bit short of greatness. It’s a nice, comfortable, practical crossover, but there’s nothing that makes it really stand out in this class.
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In Black Label form, it does eclipse the RX in terms of interior materials, color choices and textures, but that’s nearly a $60,000 car. You do get a host of concierge-level service but it’s a pricey option. Its most competitive factor with the Nautilus is actually at the other end of the spectrum — its price, which starts at $41,040, making this Lincoln a strong value for anyone looking for a comfy, quiet cruiser with SUV versatility. Both available engines are efficient and upgrading to the twin-turbo V6 adds more power, but the handling of the Nautilus isn’t what we’d call athletic.
The 2020 Cadillac XT6 is an all-new entry in the competitive 3-row luxury crossover segment and fails to stand out compared with the best midsize luxury SUVs. It has a dignified appearance, and its interior is roomy and family-friendly with plenty of room in its standard third row of seats, but that’s about where its virtues end. The sole engine choice is a naturally aspirated V6, which has enough guts for family-hauling duty, but there isn’t much of a fun-to-drive factor here. The interior quality is good but not great, which kind of sums up this whole SUV. This Cadillac is moderately priced starting at $52,695.
Earlier this month, approximately 450 students and employees in a central Florida school system needed to isolate after positive COVID-19 cases. Almost 2,000 miles away, around 100 teenagers and staff in a Denver-area school had to do the same because of cases in their school.
Rocky school reopenings are already upending educators’ plans this fall — and they’re likely doing the same thing to the work schedules of many parents who, if they aren’t already working from home, may suddenly need to be there with their quarantined student.
The good news is there’s a range of employee leave laws that could conceivably kick in to protect parents in this situation, separate and apart from an employer’s own paid time off policies. The tricky part, however, is that there’s a complicated mix of rules. And the worrying note, some say, is that the laws don’t do enough to help parents who are trying to make it all work right now.
New federal laws temporarily expanded paid family leave
The FFCRA has two important parts: one portion addressing emergency paid sick leave and another portion for expanded family and medical leave.
When it comes to school and child care, the U.S. Department of Labor says covered workers can access up to two weeks (80 hours) of emergency paid sick leave at two-thirds pay. The cap on pay in this time period is $200 daily and $2,000 total, according to the Center for WorkLife Law within the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
A covered worker (they have to have been on the payroll for at least 30 days) can also tap the law’s expanded family and medical leave for an additional 10 weeks of pay at two-thirds their compensation. In that 10-week period, an employer pays a maximum of $200 a day and up to $10,000 total, the Center for WorkLife Law. Employers ultimately receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit that covers them for paying the leave.
The law applies to employers with fewer than 500 workers. A small business with fewer than 50 workers can apply for an exemption if it can show the absence of employees would jeopardize its operations and bottom line.
The paid leave provisions are in effect from April 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020.
If a school closes for half a day, parents can get paid time off
The Labor Department weighed in late last month on how the FFCRA fit in with the fall school year.
If a student attends school some days but has distance learning on other days, parents can receive paid leave on the days their child is home. ”
If a student physically attends school some days, but has distance learning on other days, the department said a parent can get paid leave on the days their child is home. That’s because the school is essentially “closed” to the student for the day in eyes of the law. (If a child is home under a quarantine order, that can justify the parent’s paid leave.)
On the other hand, if a parent chooses all remote learning instead of in-person instruction, they cannot access paid leave under the federal law. The school is not “closed” in that context, the Labor Department said.
If school administrators start the year remotely and say they’ll make a reopening decision at a later date, the school is still closed and the paid leave is still available.
Likewise, a school might be open, albeit for a half day. The FFCRA allows workers to apply for paid leave in bite-sized pieces, like from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“You may take intermittent leave in any increment, provided that you and your employer agree,” a Labor Department questionnaire said. “The Department encourages employers and employees to collaborate to achieve flexibility and meet mutual needs.”
State and local laws can support working parents too
Now consider the fact that FFCRA isn’t the only paid leave law out there.
As the pandemic continued, various states and cities have expanded their paid leave laws to incorporate things like school closures. Is it possible to stack the time off, so that a parent could pull paid leave from one law and then turn around and pull from another?
“It depends what law you talking about and what the context is,” said Liz Morris, deputy director of the Center for WorkLife Law. “The bottom line is, it’s extremely complicated the way these laws all interact.”
The center launched a helpline in April to assist workers navigating all the rules out there. “Anybody who has COVID-19 caregiving issue in workplace can call,” Morris said.
The center’s helpline is (415) 851-3308 and its email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Morris’ team has talked to people trying to figure out the leave laws, pregnant women and new mothers who are concerned about being at work and others with health conditions who are worried about returning to work.
There’s a range of federal and state laws, but Morris said they may not be good enough for everyone — especially if they’ve already used up their paid leave under the FFCRA.
‘We’re trying to rely on this patchwork… What we really need is a single comprehensive law that protects everyone.’ ”
— Liz Morris, deputy director of the Center for WorkLife Law at University of California, Hastings College of the Law
“We’re trying to rely on this patchwork of laws to bring together a set of legal rights for people so that they just have a job to return to when this is all over and need income … What we really need is a single comprehensive law that protects everyone.”
Paid time off is important for parents juggling work and school right now, but it’s not everything, said Rich Fuerstenberg, senior partner in the Life, Absence and Disability practice at Mercer, a human resources consulting firm.
For one thing, leave under the FFCRA “is a one-shot deal. Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” he noted.
Going into the fall, Fuerstenberg said the companies he’s been working with have been thinking hard about their work schedule flexibility policies, how they can assist with child care costs and also looking at how much paid time off they are giving staff.
Almost two-thirds (62%) of companies said they were allowing parents to change their work schedules so employees could manage their child’s new school routine this fall, according to a July-August Mercer survey of more than 800 employers.
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