Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Back to School written on a blue mask with a blue backpackParents are grappling with whether to send their children to school in person, if that is an option. For some, schools have mandated distance learning and parents do not have a choice. For others, schools have opened for in-person learning but have offered distance learning as an option. Although parents in both situations may end up with kids engaged in distance learning at home, recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) indicates that only one group is eligible for childcare leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

On August 27, 2020, DOL issued three important clarifications regarding parental rights under the FFCRA:

  1. Parents whose child may attend school in person, but who instead opt for distance learning, are not entitled to leave to care for the child during that time. DOL does not consider school “closed” for that child and, thus, leave for childcare is not available.
  2. Parents whose child is on a mandated alternate or “hybrid” remote learning schedule, under which they attend school on some days but must engage in distance learning on other days, are entitled to leave, but only for the days on which the child is required to engage in distance learning. Because the school will not permit that child to attend in person on those specific days, DOL considers the school “closed” for the purposes of the statute.
  3. Parents whose child attends a school that is currently mandating distance learning, but is evaluating a potential in-person option at a later date, are entitled to leave for as long as distance learning is mandated. If and when the school reopens, the extent of the parents’ eligibility for childcare leave depends on the same factors as 1 and 2 above.

These clarifications do not change any of the original eligibility requirements under the Act, including caps on the total hours of leave available. Read more about the FFCRA in our earlier blog posts here and here.

If you have questions about your right to paid leave during the pandemic, please contact the employment lawyers of Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch.