The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued advice for businesses reviewing employee requests for emergency paid sick and/or childcare leave pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). DOL has clarified the extent to which parents of children facing a variety of school opening scenarios-including all in-person attendance, a mix of in-person and remote attendance and all-remote attendance-may be eligible for paid leave. This advice has been incorporated into NADA’s FFCRA FAQs with additional information available on DOL’s FFCRA webpage.
Some frequently asked questions and answers include:
Q: A school is operating on a hybrid-attendance basis. For example, the school is open each day, but students alternate between days attending in person and days attending remotely. They are permitted to attend school only on their allotted in-person attendance days. May employees take paid emergency sick or childcare leave under these circumstances?
A: Yes. Employees are eligible to take paid emergency leave on days (or partial days) when their child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning, if such leave is necessary to actually care for their child and only if no other suitable person is available to do so. A school is effectively “closed” to children on days (or partial days) when they cannot attend in person and an employee is eligible to take paid emergency leave on a child’s remote-learning days.
Q: A school is giving parents a choice between children attending in person or participating in a remote learning program. An employee has signed up for the remote learning alternative. Since the child will be at home, is the employee eligible to take paid emergency leave?
A: No. Employees are not eligible to take emergency paid leave because the child’s school is not “closed” for COVID–19 related reasons and it is open for the child to attend in person. If a school is open but a parent or caregiver has chosen for the child to remain home, the parent or caregiver is not entitled to paid emergency leave. However, if due to COVID-19, a child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine, a parent may be eligible to take paid emergency leave to care for him or her.
Q: A school is beginning the school year under a remote learning program but may reopen for in-person attendance later in the school year based on changed circumstances. May an employee take paid emergency leave under these circumstances?
A: Yes. Employees may be eligible to take paid emergency leave while their child’s school remains closed to in-person attendance. When it reopens to in-person attendance, emergency paid leave may no longer be available.
Q: What if an employee has accrued paid sick leave or paid time off?
A: Employees may substitute accrued leave under the dealership’s paid leave policy. Employers may not require employees to use employer provided accrued paid leave in lieu of emergency paid sick leave.
Q: Can more than one parent or guardian take emergency paid sick or childcare leave simultaneously to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons?
A: Probably not. Employees may take emergency paid sick or childcare leave to care for a child only when necessary and if it causes them to be unable to work or telework as a result of providing care. Generally, employees do not need to take such leave if a co-parent, co-guardian, or usual childcare provider is available to provide the childcare.
Additional information can be found on DOL’s FFCRA webpage: www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.