Education Support Professionals (ESPs) nurture students, transport them to and from school, prepare and serve healthy school meals, keep the school environment clean and safe, and perform other vital jobs in school communities. The ESP Family Leave Act (S. 2821/H.R. 5348), introduced last week by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL), would allow more hard-working ESPs to qualify for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits that allow them to care for themselves—or family members—without fear of losing their jobs when they are ready to return to them.
Under current law, FMLA allows certain eligible employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave for their own or a family member’s serious health condition, and up to 26 weeks for military-caregiver leave. To qualify for FMLA, the employee must work at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the leave. Some ESPs do not have a problem qualifying given the number of hours they work. Others have difficulty reaching the 1,250 threshold due to their schedules and the limited school year, but need FMLA in order to care for themselves or a family member.
Every ESP should have access to family and medical leave when they need it. The ESP Family Leave Act would give ESPs the respect and support they deserve—and need.
Email your senators and representative and urge them to co-sponsor the ESP Family Leave Act (S. 2821/H.R. 5348).