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By: Catherine Scott
On August 27, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued three new answers to its Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). All three of these questions addressed employees’ questions regarding whether they would be entitled to paid leave under the FFCRA in the event their children’s schools returned on a remote or “hybrid” (part-remote, part in-person) basis.
The DOL was clear that employees who otherwise qualify for leave under the FFCRA are entitled to use paid leave in the event their children’s schools require students to begin the year on a remote basis because those schools are effectively “closed” to students for the time being. For those employees whose children are only remote part-time on a “hybrid” basis, employees are entitled to intermittent leave under the FFCRA for those days in which students are attending school remotely. Employees only are entitled to this leave if they “need the leave to actually care for [the] child during that time and only if no other suitable person is available to do so.”
The DOL also noted that, if a parent chooses to keep his or her child out of school on a remote or hybrid basis, then that employee is not entitled to paid leave under the school closure leave provisions of the FFCRA because the child’s school is not “closed” to the child. Therefore, if an employee’s child’s school has given parents the option to return their children to school in-person full time or keep children home on a hybrid or remote basis, then those employees who opt for learning on a remote or hybrid basis are not entitled to paid leave under the school closure leave provisions of the FFCRA. Of course, these employees may be entitled to leave under other FFCRA leave provisions or other types of state or local leave statutes.
The DOL notes that employees must keep up with the changing circumstances of their children’s schools and make an ongoing determination as to whether those employees are entitled to FFCRA leave. If you have questions about whether employees are entitled to FFCRA or other leave during the pandemic, please feel free to contact Catherine Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or any other member of FMG’s Employment Group.