June 30, 2020
Authored by: Christy Phanthavong
The advent of summer has brought the reality of “child care” leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to the forefront of employers’ minds: Are employees really entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave to care for their children during “summer vacation” from school? And, if yes, how do we manage this leave?
The answer to the first question is, “possibly.” Eligible employees of employers covered by the FFCRA are entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19: (a) two weeks of Paid Sick Leave; and (b) up to ten additional weeks of Emergency FMLA Leave.
While this entitlement creates the potential for employees to be on leave all summer (and mostly paid leave, at that: employers must play employees 2/3rds pay at employee’s normal rate, subject to caps) there are a number of steps employers can take to effectively manage this leave.
Step 1: Ensure the Employee has a Qualifying Reason for Leave, and Document the Reason
The Department of Labor has made it clear that “summer vacation” does not, in itself, create a qualifying reason for FFCRA leave, because school being closed for the summer is not a “reason related to COVID-19.” See DOL FFCRA Q&A #93. It is only when the employee’s plans for summer care for the child have fallen through because of a COVID-19 related reason that FFCRA leave could be