With schools opening this fall utilizing a variety of learning models, employees may be wondering if they qualify for the paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) since the school may not technically be “closed”. The US Department of Labor recently released updated guidance regarding the eligibility for paid leave relative to the varied formats and schedules schools may be utilizing. Here’s what that guidance states:
Scenario 1 – School is operating exclusively online
- If the physical location where your child receives instruction is now closed and your child is expected or required to complete assignments at home, the school is “closed” for purposes of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave. This means the employee is eligible.
Scenario 2 – School is operating on a hybrid attendance basis
- An employee is eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA on days when the child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning, as long as you need the leave to actually care for your child during that time and only if no other suitable person is available to do so.
Scenario 3 – School is open, but offers a choice of in person or remote learning
- If an employee chooses the remote learning alternative, they will not be eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA because the child’s school is not “closed.”
Under the FFCRA, an employee is entitled up to 12 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at 2/3 of their regular rate of pay to care for a child whose school or child care is closed. The expanded family and medical leave can be taken intermittently with the employer’s permission. Employers will need to consider any leave taken by an employee earlier in the year for schools and child care being closed when determining the amount of leave the employee is eligible for. At this time, the FFCRA is only effective through December 31, 2020.
For now, the Department of Labor has created a tool that will help employees walk through a handful of options to determine if they are eligible for paid sick leave or paid expanded family and medical leave. As we understand it, an employer tool is coming soon so stay tuned. In the meantime, contact our experts for additional questions relating to the FFCRA.