The effects of Covid-19 on our country have been staggering; between the tragic loss of life, the overwhelming rise in unemployment rates, the volatility of the market and economy as a whole – it’s inevitable we will be feeling its consequences for years to come.
If you ask any parent what the worst part of this pandemic has been though, it’s safe to say their response would be the requirement to transform themselves overnight into their children’s 24/7 personal entertainer, chef, housekeeper, nurse, therapist, and most difficult of all, teacher.
Lawyers, accountants, truck drivers, HR reps – they’ve all suddenly found themselves having to also take on the role of teacher, which has been a struggle, to put it into terms safe for your children’s eyes who inevitably are close by as you read this.
Parents Are Ready For Financial Relief
Now that summer is over and schools are back in session, many parents are palpably feeling sweet relief. However, for some parents, their children’s schools are operating remotely, or in a combination of in-person and virtual learning. This opens up a whole new set of issues for the many parents whose in-person jobs have resumed.
Numerous parents rely on the school system for child-care while they are at work. With their children now required to learn from home, it puts these parents in a seemingly impossible position.
Thankfully, The U.S. Department of Labor is aware of this predicament and has enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
Under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) within the FFCRA, employers are required to give their employees two weeks (capped at 80 hours) of paid sick leave to parents who must remain home to care for their children whose schools or child-care facilities are closed due to Covid-19.
Many of you are now probably thinking, that’s great, but my child will be home for more than two weeks. Enter the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). This act, another part of the FFCRA, articulates that if you’ve been employed for over 30 days – you are entitled to an additional 10-weeks of paid leave.
It’s important to note that any time taken off under this act will count against your 12-week Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) paid leave. Meaning, if you’ve already utilized 12 paid weeks of FMLA, you are unable to take paid-time off under this provision. Additionally, if you do take advantage of the 10-weeks allowed in the EFMLEA, you will have only two weeks left under the FMLA.
Below we’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act so you can fully understand what is within your legal rights to be able to care for your children while still maintaining a paycheck and a job.
Do I Have To Take My Paid Leave in Consecutive Days?
No. Thankfully, the FFCRA is sensitive to the fact that many students are attending school in-person every other day, or on a rotating basis. You can use your paid leave on days when your child is home, and go into work on days when they are attending school in-person. The only caveat is that taking this leave must be a last resort – there must be no other suitable option for child-care.
If My Child’s School Gives the Option of In-Person Learning or Remote Learning, and I Opt for Remote Learning, Can I Still Take Advantage of the FFCRA’s Paid Leave?
Unfortunately, no. If your child has the option to attend school in-person, you cannot use the FFCRA’s paid leave.
If My Child Is Currently Participating in Remote Learning but Their School May Open Its Doors for In-Person Learning Soon, Am I Still Eligible for Paid Leave?
Yes. So long as your child is home due to their school conducting remote learning because of Covid-19, you are entitled to paid leave under the FFCRA. Once the school opens, however, paid leave will depend on the nature of the opening. If they open their doors for full time in-person learning, paid leave cannot be used.
If I Already Took Paid Leave for a Qualified Reason Included in the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act Before the Act Came Into Effect, Am I Still Eligible to Take Paid Leave Under the Act?
Yes! The “clock” for Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act began on April 1, 2020. If you took paid leave before then, you are entitled to still take time off under the Act.
However, if you took unpaid time off before the Act came into effect for reasons included under the Act, you, unfortunately, cannot retroactively be paid for those days. To conclude, there’s good news and bad news in all of this. The bad news is, many parents will still “struggle” with playing teacher to their children. The good news is though, thanks to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, they can now get paid to add “teacher” onto their parental resumes.