The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide employees with up to 10 paid weeks of leave if they are unable to work because their child’s school or child care provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19. As August comes to a close, many employees have children who will be going back to school in some capacity – be it in person, on-line, or some hybrid approach. This guide will help parents and employers to better understand whether the FFCRA applies to their particular situations.
What If My Child’s School is Physically Closed Due to COVID-19?
This is the most straightforward scenario. Assuming that the parent is unable to telework, they are entitled to up to 12 weeks of FFCRA leave (10 of which are paid) to care for their children while they attend school online.
What If My Child’s School Has Adopted a “Hybrid” Model?
School schools will be adopting a hybrid model in which students are split into groups and rotate between online and in-person classes. For purposes of the FFCRA, such schools are still considered “closed” and parents may receive FFCRA leave for the days their children are at home. Although the FFCRA regulations state that intermittent leave can only be granted with an employer’s approval, and recent federal court decision in NY invalidated this regulation. This decision came out of NY, but it may be a sign of things to come in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
What If My Child’s School Offers a Choice Between Online and In-Person Classes?
Although the Department of Labor has not directly addressed this issue, it is likely that parents are not entitled to leave if they voluntarily choose online schooling for their children, because their schools are not actually “closed.” As long as their children have the option to be in school, these parents likely do not qualify for FFCRA leave.
What If My Partner Is Available to Watch My Child?
If an employee has a partner who is available to watch their children, their employer is not obligated to give them FFCRA leave. FFCRA leave is reserved for parents who have no other suitable person to care for their children – e.g., a partner, spouse, co-parent, childcare provider, etc.
What Documents Do I Need to Give My Employer?
The dates for which you’re requesting leave;
- A statement that you’re unable to work because your child’s school is closed and a statement that no other suitable person can care for them. If your child is older than 14, you need to explain the special circumstances that require you to stay home;
- The name of your child; and
- The name of the school that has closed.
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