The time has come when all parents begin their back to school shopping and figuring out which lunchbox and backpack to buy for their kids. Meanwhile, the pandemic is still lingering across the nation with several business closures still occurring. Going back to school does not have that same feeling as it has in years past. What also will not be the same is the way students will attend school year this fall as handfuls of schools across the nation have moved forward with distant learning and keeping schools closed.
As school districts finalize their plans on how to begin the school year, parents are left wondering what they will do with their kids while seeking information on leave entitlements. Established on March 14, and taking effect April 1, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of paid leave to employees for certain COVID-19-related reasons under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (PSLA) and expands the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide employees up to 12 weeks of emergency job-protected leave to care for a child as a result of closed school or child care facilities due to a public health emergency.
Unfortunately, some employees may have used their full leave amount earlier this year, whether for leave covered by PSLA, Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) or for other FMLA-qualifying reasons. On the other hand, other employees may still have left available and can utilize it in school closings this fall.
What employers should consider next: Is distant learning considered a school closure? Many schools have either gone full-time or part-time virtual learning. Therefore, school is still in session, but in-person instruction is limited or not there entirely. The Department of Labor issued guidance confirming that when the physical location of a school or care facility is closed, employees may be eligible for leave. Similarly, if a school is partially open and an employee’s child goes to school on that day, the employee would not be eligible for leave on in-person instruction days. Luckily for those administrators using AMGtime’s solutions, AMGtime updated its software to reflect the new requirements under the FFCRA, which went into effect on April 1, 2020. Read more about AMGtime’s time and attendance system implementation here.
What if schools have hybrid teaching models?
When it comes to hybrid teaching models, the Department of Labor made it clear that leave can be provided on an irregular basis with employer approval if the employee seeks to leave intermittently.
What type of documentation is needed?
The regulations also clarify the type of documentation employers must request to substantiate the need for leave. Under the FFCRA, documentation for leave requests must contain:
Documentation for leave to care for a child must include:
Names of child or children being cared for
The name of the school, place of care or childcare provider that closed
A statement explaining that no other person is free to care for the child(ren) during the time of requested leave