Back-To-School During COVID-19 & Paid Leave with FFCRA

September 10 | 2020

I’ve always loved fall! I look forward to the cooler weather, leaves turning color, and new flavors available in my favorite treats like pumpkin! School is back in session, learning and excitement surround the kids. This year COVID-19 has taken over most of what we do, including what we do this fall!

Around Utah and the country, we have a variety of situations come up with Back-To-School. Kids may still be in a remote-home-learning situation, or in-person with shorter days, or shorter weeks. Some also offer hybrid style with both in-home and in-school on different days. Also, what if there is a larger spread and the school closes?

This is probably one of the largest concerns for your employees that have school aged children. Balance of home and family is difficult during these times. On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economics Security (CARES) act was signed into law. Part of the CARES act deals with Paid Leave for employees. Recently the DOL released new Q&A that answers how different school schedules interact with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Need to know more about Paid Leave and how it applies? Check out my previous article:

Emergency Paid Leave – Family First Coronavirus Response Act

Reminders about caring for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed:

  1. Employee must be unable to work or telework to qualify.

  2. Paid leave for the purpose of attending to a child whose school schedule has changes is limited to 2 weeks for all employees, and 12 weeks for employees that have been employed for 30 days.

  3. They are paid at 2/3 of pay up to $200 per day in $12,000 total over the 12 weeks

  4. This only can be paid if there is no other suitable person is available. (Both parents are not eligible for leave at the same time)

  5. The school must have an order in place (from state or local authorities)

  6. Documentation: make sure you gather pertinent information and keep records for your company. Most of the time, you will need to be flexible in gathering, but try to maintain as much of a record as you can.

Department of Labor:

HR Service Toolkit:

New Direction given for Back-To-School schedules.

  • Question 98 Hybrid schedules: alternating home and in-school education. You would be eligible for paid leave on the days when your child is not permitted to attend school. The Paid Leave days don’t need to consecutive.

  • Question 99 Choice of Home-Learning and In-School-Learning: If you choose to keep your child home but could have sent them to school, you are not eligible to get paid leave under FFCRA. If your child is in quarantine, you may be able to take paid leave (See question 63)

  • Question 100 In-Home-Learning 100% to start, but it may change later in the year: Because eligibility for Paid Leave is tied to your school’s operations, if the school is closed for in-person learning employees are eligible. Once the situation changes with the school, eligibility will also change.

For full Q&A by DOL:

What if they aren’t eligible for FFCRA Paid Leave? Be Flexible!

You need to retain that talent! You’ve spent time training employees, and they may be very valuable to your organization. How you handle these situations can have a ripple effect. Consider the cost to replace an employee? The culture of your business may rely on your flexibility. Make sure you are handing the situations the same for all employees and avoid discrimination. You don’t want to put your employees in a situation where they are having to choose between working and keeping their family safe. Here are some other ways you can still help.

  • Other paid leave: Do you offer Paid Time Off already? You want to refer to your company handbook. Make sure you modify your policy if needed to allow use of PTO during COVID for Back-To-School purposes?

  • Work from Home: some positions allow for easy work from home access, others take a little work. Is there something else your company needs to accomplish that they can help do at home, even if its not part of their normal duties? Maybe they work from home a few hours a week doing some other task to help make up some hours and come in when possible?

  • Flexible Schedules: is there a way to change work hours for that employee, or have them work on something else? Maybe a small reduction in their hours is enough to help.

“Don’t confuse Goals with Mechanics” Ivan Misner

Mechanics are how we achieve our goals. Your goal is the most important part. Mechanics need to change sometimes to accomplish the goal. May you and your family, and your employees remain safe!

Robin Sellers

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