As Schools Reopen, U.S. Department of Labor Answers Questions about Eligibility for Paid Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

 

 

 

 

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

This guidance explains eligibility for paid leave relative to the varied formats and schedules schools have announced as they plan to reopen, including blending in-person with distance learning. WHD offers this information to explain the benefits and protections available under both the paid sick leave and the expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA.

The FFCRA allows certain employees to take up to two weeks of paid sick leave and take up to 12 weeks of expanded family and medical leave, 10 of which are paid, for specified reasons related to COVID-19. An eligible employee can take both types of paid leave “because of a need to care for the employee’s son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.” Since the Department has received many requests for guidance on this topic, we believe publishing these FAQs will help the public, schools, and employers clarify eligibility for this paid leave.

The FAQs issued today address whether employees qualify for paid leave when:

  • A child attends a school operating on an alternate day basis;
  • A parent chooses remote learning 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.

Today’s guidance complements a robust and growing library of resources and tools we provide for workers and employers as they navigate the changes in the workplace brought on by COVID-19. Resources include extensive questions and answers, an online tool for employees to determine their eligibility for paid leave, and short videos and infographics explaining the law’s benefits.

The FFCRA helps the U.S. combat effects of the coronavirus on workplaces by providing tax credits to employers with fewer than 500 employees to reimburse the costs of providing employees with paid leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Please visit WHD’s “Quick Benefits Tips” for information about how much leave workers may qualify to use, and the wages employers must pay. The law enables employers to provide paid leave reimbursed by tax credits, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.

WHD continues to provide updated information on its website and through extensive outreach efforts to ensure that workers and employers have the information they need about the benefits and protections of this new law. We also provide additional information on common issues workers and employers face when responding to the coronavirus and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and on job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act at www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.

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