The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently added to its list of FAQs concerning leave under the FFCRA, specifically tackling leave questions related to children’s remote learning programs. The DOL’s guidance initially stated that an employee could take leave if a child’s school was open only for remote instruction. This guidance did not cover the evolving situations that we have today, the most prominent of which include hybrid remote schedules, in-person schedules and optional all-remote learning.
According to new guidance, when a child’s school is operating on a hybrid attendance schedule (some days in-person learning and other days remote learning), employees are eligible for paid leave under FFCRA on remote learning days. Employees would not be entitled to FFCRA leave for days that a child is in school. Employees may also take intermittent leave at any increment found to be agreeable by their employers.
It is important to note that if parents are given the choice between in-person learning or remote learning, and the parent chooses remote learning, the employee is not eligible for paid leave under FFCRA because the school is not closed.
While multiple scenarios exist and each one should be reviewed individually, organizations are strongly advised to practice consistency in the application of all policies and procedures.
When making FFCRA Child Care Leave decisions be sure to:
- Provide flexibility where feasible. The DOL is encouraging employers and employees to work together to meet the needs of the individual and the business. Arrangements may include both telework and intermittent leave.
- Consider individual assessments of employee situations to identify scheduling issues and attempt to work around virtual learning demands and other caretaker responsibilities.
- Keep in mind any state or local laws that apply to your organization. Also, consider using additional paid or unpaid leave programs to assist employees during this time.
The DOL guidance makes clear that the availability of paid FFCRA leave may change as schools reevaluate their reopening plans. Baker Tilly Vantagen will continue to monitor developments and provide updates to offer guidance and recommendations on proactive steps to ensure compliance.
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