What Employers Need to Know About The Families First Coronavirus Response Act - An Animation
Navigating the ins and outs of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) can be difficult for employers. This animation seeks to illustrate some of the most important takeaways.
Hi, I'm Tawny, a partner in Verrill's Labor & Employment Practice Group. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides relief for many employees who may have a need to be out of work to care for children whose school or care provider is closed as a result of COVID-19. As children begin the process of returning to school, however, the different models and structures being employed by school districts creates confusion for employers as how to calculate time away from work that is protected by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Here are some things that you need to keep in mind during the process. First, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides employees with up to 12 weeks paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave, paid at two-thirds of the regular rate of pay up to $200 daily and $12,000 total if the employee is caring for their children or child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable for COVID-19 related reasons.
Second, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act leave is available only if the employee is unable to work, which means unable to work at the job site or to telework because of these childcare issues.
Third, the Depart of Labor has clarified how to deal with hybrid return to school models. Noting that if an employee's child is not permitted to attend school in person and must engage in remote learning, that if the employee is actually caring for their child during the remote learning time and no other suitable person is available to do so, the employee will be entitled to families first coronavirus response leave on the remote learning days.
Fourth, if the employee's child's school is open, but the parent has chosen to participate in a remote learning program or option. In that situation the school is not closed or unavailable under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and protected leave would not be available.
Finally, if the employee's school is only offering remote learning, so if their child's school is only offering remote learning, all time that is spent actually caring for their child during that remote learning time, when no other suitable person is available to do so, will be protected leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
So, considering these factors, here is some helpful advice concerning things you can do to navigate the complex nature of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act as students begin to return to school. First, when an employee indicates that they have a need for leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, ask follow up questions concerning the district's return-to-school plan and what days the child or children will be learning remotely versus in person. Second, confirm with the employee their need to provide care to the child and confirm that there is no other suitable person available to do so. Third, determine whether the employee can work remotely during the time or whether physical presence at a work site is an essential function of the employee's position. Fourth, identify the amount of Families First Coronavirus Response Act time that the employee has available. If they have already taken Families First Coronavirus Response Act or Family and Medical Leave Act leave, or they're not full-time employees they would not have 480 hours or 12 weeks of leave available.