COVID-19 Employer Update: New Guidance Concerning Leave for School Closures Under the FFCRA

With schools in the region re-opening over the next few weeks, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has provided timely new guidance in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Questions and Answers compilation related to leave available under the FFCRA due to the “closure” of an employee’s child’s school. When the FFRCA was first enacted, school buildings were literally closed leaving little room for misunderstanding as to the availability of this type of leave.  However, as schools return with in-person programming, remote learning, or a hybrid model, the question of whether an employee’s child’s school was “closed” lingered.  The new information, questions 98-100, now addresses this issue of school closure under the FFCRA. A summary of the guidance offered in answer to questions 98-100 is below.

No. 98 – An employee is eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA on days when their child is not permitted to attend school in-person because the child has been assigned a remote learning day in a hybrid model, and the employee is the child’s only suitable caregiver option.

No. 99 – An employee is not eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA if their child’s school is open for in-person attendance, but the employee/parent has opted for remote learning for their child due to personal concerns. However, if a 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 that child. For guidance in this instance, see FAQ 63.

No. 100 – An employee is eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA if their child’s school is beginning the school year under a remote learning program due to COVID-19. If the child’s school eventually reopens, the availability of paid leave under the FFCRA will depend on the details of the school’s operations. For guidance in this instance, see FAQ 98 and FAQ 99.

For more information

Employer response and obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic remain fluid. Continue to communicate with your employees, review your relevant policies and procedures, and consult with legal counsel as necessary. If you are looking for more information about compliance with the state and federal guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19), please contact Greg Vanden-Eykel at 617.654.8200.

Barton Gilman’s employment law team provides comprehensive legal guidance to a wide variety of employers on all aspects of the employment cycle—from hiring through separation—including personnel policies and handbooks, non-compete agreements, and representation before state and federal courts and agencies. To learn more, please visit www.bglaw.com/services/labor-employment/.