As many summer camps and daycare facilities announce their continued closures during summer months, working parents and guardians may find relief from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act).
The Act extends family and medical leave benefits for eligible employees who are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19 and are unable to telework. Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) published additional guidance to better define when an employee is qualified for these benefits under the Act.
The first DOL bulletin addresses when schools or child care programs are considered closed under the Act. Generally, the DOL considers schools to be open when “the public school district in which the child resides requires its students to attend school, either physically or through virtual or distance learning.” Therefore, even if a school is physically closed due to COVID-19 but requires all students to attend school virtually for at least one day or during part of one day, school is considered open.
The second DOL bulletin, provides procedures for an employee’s request for leave and describes what information the employee will need to provide to qualify under the Act. An employee must provide their employer with a statement, either orally or in writing, that explains the employee’s inability to work and need for the leave. More specifically, an employee should include in their statement (1) the name of the child, (2) the name of the school or place of care (camp, enrichment program, etc.), and (3) a statement that no other suitable person is available to care for the child. By naming a specific school or place of care, the employee is certifying that the child applied, was enrolled, or had previously attended and was eligible to attend again.
Finally, if an employee qualifies, the extent of their benefits will be dependent on their employee status. All full-time employees of employers with less than 500 employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave at 40 hours a week and part-time employees are eligible for leave for the same number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over the same period.
Employees who take leave for this reason are entitled to pay. Over the course of the leave, employees are entitled to pay at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to a maximum of $200 per day or $12,000 total over a 12-week period.
The benefits provided by the Act are set to last through December 31, 2020. For more information on the Act and details on the leave provisions, reference our earlier LR What You Need to Know update here.
This article was updated on July 2, 2020 to include the new guidelines from the Department of Labor.