Back to school season is around the corner and that has created a lot of questions for employees and their employers regarding how they will be able to support their childcare and schooling needs with modified schedules. If classes are not scheduled for certain days of the week, or only for five hours a day, will parents be able to leave work early for the entire school year? Trying to accommodate a huge portion of the workforce for changing school schedules can put a massive strain on employers. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) are set to expire December 31st, 2020. New legislation to guide what companies should do for the rest of the school year seems likely. Until then, here is what employers need to know:
- Expanded FMLA changed the hours required to meet eligibility from 1,250 hours to 30 days with the company.
- The expanded FMLA does not double the total available amount of time, it is still only 12 weeks per calendar year. FMLA time taken before the FFCRA and CARES act is counted as part of the 12 weeks of FMLA time.
- As with regular FMLA leave, an employer can require the employee to use accrued paid vacation leave or paid sick leave in conjunction with their FMLA leave of absence if it is company policy to do so.
- If an employee is requesting FMLA because their child’s school, place of care, or daycare provider has shut down due to Coronavirus they need to submit their request for leave either verbally or in written form. They must also provide a statement that no other suitable care is available. The only restriction is that the child must be under the age of 14 or they must provide a statement indicating why their older child needs special care during daylight hours.
- If your company is in the private sector and has more than 500 employees (including part-time employees, temporary employees, day laborers, and employees out on leave) in the United States, the FFCRA act does not apply to your company (FMLA does still apply).
- If you have less than 50 employees and trying to accommodate their schedule changes would cause undue hardship, the FFCRA act does not apply to your company. This is because FMLA does not apply to businesses with less than 50 employees.
- FFCRA act does not apply to medical professionals in specific industries.
- “Most employees of the federal government are covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was not amended by this Act, and are therefore not covered by the expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA. However, federal employees covered by Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act are covered by the paid sick leave provision” (SHRM).
- If an employee is required by the government to quarantine they are eligible for unemployment benefits and cannot legally be fired for their absence (stipulations apply).
- If an employee quits because they are immunodeficient (or for other valid concerns) they may qualify for unemployment.
It is important to keep watching for new legislation as things are changing very quickly on the state and federal level. This can impact company taxes, payroll, hours of operation, safety standards, and much more. Schools still do not have fully set schedules for the upcoming school year, so it is crucial to communicate with your employees and Management for necessary accommodations. Using these guidelines to help everyone understand what they can and cannot do as the new school year starts will help keep your team and operations running efficiently.