As if there wasn’t enough confusion around the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) during the COVID-19 quarantines, employees may be further confused about where they stand as places of employment reopen and they face childcare dilemmas. We’ve put together a series of questions and answers to help employees understand their rights as they are called to return to work.
Does FFCRA still apply when I return to work?
Yes, FFCRA is in place to help employees until December 31, 2020. Further, employees should be posting the required notice of employee rights under FFCRA in a clearly visible spot in the workplace.
My child’s school closed for summer, can I still get Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and/or Emergency Family Medical Leave (EFML)?
It depends. With respect to childcare, the EPSL and EFML benefits are available if your child’s school is closed or childcare is unavailable because of COVID-19 and you are unable to work or telework because you are the only one available to care for them. So, if your child’s school is closed for the normal summer closure, this would not be a closure attributable to COVID-19, and therefore EPSL or EFML would not be available. The same is true if your child care provider is unavailable for reasons that are unrelated to COVID-19.
What if my child’s summer camp is closed because of COVID-19?
If your child’s camp is not being held because of COVID-19, and you must care for them because there is no one else available to do so, you should qualify for EPSL and/or EFML.
What information can my employer require me to submit about COVID-related childcare leave?
Your employer may ask you to provide the following information:
- Employee Name
- Date leave requested
- Reason for Leave
- Statement of inability to work because of a qualified reason
- Name of child
- Name of school, place of care, or child care provider that is unavailable or closed
- Statement that no other suitable person is able to care for the child during requested leave period
Can I take intermittent leave related to childcare unavailability or school/camp closure?
Yes, as long as both you and your employer agree and there is a mutual understanding between you, preferably in writing.
Can my employer terminate me for requesting or taking EPSL or EFML?
No. It would be illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for requesting benefits under the FFCRA.
If you believe you are eligible for EPSL and/or EFML and you are being wrongly denied either by your employer, or if your employer has retaliated against you for requesting EPSL and/or EFML (i.e., your employer has terminated you, cut your hours, or cut your pay), please call us at 334-237-7773. One of our attorneys will be glad to speak with you about your situation and advise you about what you may be able to do to protect yourself.