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U.S. Department of Labor Publishes New Guidance Concerning FFCRA COVID-19 Paid Leave and School Re-openings

August 28, 2020

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published new FAQs on August 27, 2020, for employers about paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) related to the re-opening of schools.

The guidance describes eligibility for paid leave in response to the varied reopening formats and schedules announced by schools including blended in-person and remote learning.

FFCRA Leave

The FFCRA allows certain employees to take up to two weeks of emergency paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of expanded family and medical leave (10 of which are paid) for COVID-19-related reasons.

Childcare-related COVID-19 Leave

An eligible employee may take both the paid sick leave and the expanded family and medical leave “because of a need to care for the employee’s son or daughter whose school or place or care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.”

What is New Under the FAQs?

The DOL’s FAQs now address whether employees qualify for paid leave when:

  • An employee’s child attends a school operating on an alternate day basis;
  • An employee chooses remote learning for their child when in-person instruction is available; and
  • A school begins the year with remote learning but may shift to in-person instruction if conditions change.

An employee is eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA on each of the days when their child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning, as long as the employee needs the leave to actually care for their child during that time and only if no other suitable person is available to do so.

FFCRA leave is not, however, available to an employee to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance but is home because the employee has chosen to have them remain home.

If the employee’s child’s school begins the year with remote learning, the employee may take paid leave under the FFCRA during this period. If the child’s school reopens to in-person learning, the availability of paid leave under the FFCRA will be dependent on the school’s format and scheduling.

Attorney Advertising. The information contained in this Legal Alert provides a general summary of the topics covered and is not intended to be and should not be relied upon as legal advice. You should consult with your legal counsel for advice and before making legal, business or other decisions.

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