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DOL Updates Guidance on the FFCRA Related to School Reopenings

September 1, 2020

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (DOL) published new frequently asked questions for workers and employers about qualifying for paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) with regard to the reopening of schools.

This guidance explains paid leave eligibility under the various online and in-person formats and alternative schedules that schools have adopted as they plan to reopen. The DOL’s most recent FAQs explain the benefits and protections available under the FFCRA’s paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions. Specifically, the FAQs address whether employees qualify for leave under the following circumstances.

  • A child attends a school operating on an alternate-day basis.

    According to the guidance, employees are eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA on 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.
  • A parent chooses remote learning when in-person instruction is available.

    The DOL explains that in situations in which the employee is given a choice between having their child attend in person or participating in a remote learning program, the employee is not eligible to take paid leave if the employee chooses the remote learning alternative because the employee’s child’s school is not closed due to COVID–19. However, if, because of COVID-19, the employee’s child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a health-care provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine, the employee may be eligible to take paid leave to care for the child.
  • The school year begins with remote learning but may shift to in-person instruction if conditions change.

    The guidance provides that employees are eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA while their child’s school remains closed. If their child’s school reopens, the availability of paid leave under the FFCRA will depend on the particulars of the school’s operations.

A link to the DOL’s latest FAQs can be found here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

Employers should become familiar with this recent guidance in order to ensure compliance with the FFCRA as schools begin to reopen. If you have any questions, please contact an RLF employment attorney.

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