The HR Compass

FFCRA & Back-to-School

Sep 28, 2020

How school learning models impact employee paid leave eligibility

Does your company have employees with school-aged children who are trying to juggle workplace responsibilities with shifting school schedules? Are you struggling as an employer to keep up the with the latest – and ever-changing – pandemic-related Department of Labor (DOL) workplace guidelines?

You’re not alone! And the human resources specialists at Taylor HR can help your company better understand the challenges your employees may be facing and help ensure you remain compliant with the newest pandemic guidelines – including the paid leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

What do employers need to know about school schedules and the FFCRA?

In effect until December 31, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires “certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.”

There are a number of specific items in the Act that speak to whether employees with school-aged children are eligible for paid leave.

Let’s take a look at three key back-to-school learning models that might impact whether your employees may be eligible for paid leave through the FFCRA:

  • Hybrid Learning Program – When a child is in a hybrid program where they are ONLY allowed to be in school on specific days of the week, employees are permitted to take paid leave for the days when their children MUST be home.
  • Fully Remote Learning Program – In fully remote scenarios, where a child is required to do ALL learning remotely, employees are entitled to take paid leave for as long as the school remains closed.
  • Fully In-Person Learning Program with a Fully Remote Option – If a child’s school district is fully open for a five-day school week and offers an optional fully remote option, employees with children enrolled in the optional fully remote program are not eligible for paid leave. Employees are entitled to take paid leave ONLY on days when the school is closed, such as holidays.

Exceptions to the Rules

It’s important for employers to know that there are some exceptions outlined in the FFCRA.

  • Students with Medical Conditions – If their child has a medical condition that puts them at risk by attending an in-person school program, employees may qualify for paid leave.
  • Exposure to COVID-19 – If their child has been exposed and needs to isolate as a result, employees may be able to take paid leave for this time.

What happens if there’s a sudden pivot?

As more communities face upticks in new COVID-19 cases, schools may need to pivot their initial learning models from in-person and hybrid to fully remote learning.

Employers will need to stay flexible with their company’s back-to-work plans and stay up to speed on how continuously shifting parental responsibilities may impact an employee’s paid leave eligibility.

Every employee situation is different

It’s important to remember that each of your employees with school-aged children may be facing different circumstances due to varying regulations in their individual school district. Employers must treat each employee on a case-by-case basis and continuously monitor each situation for changes that may impact eligibility.

The risk for your company

To avoid putting your company is legal jeopardy, it’s critical that your business remains 100 percent compliant with all pandemic-related employer requirements, including the FFCRA. But this can be overwhelming for employers, especially small businesses without a dedicated HR team.

How Taylor HR can help

As an HR consulting firm, Taylor HR Group can provide peace of mind, ensuring that your business is fully compliant with FFCRA guidelines. Our team of HR specialists is here to help you navigate pandemic-related workplace complexities, new regulations and ensure compliance – even as things continue to change.

Need help navigating the FFCRA and other pandemic-related employee challenges?

Contact Taylor HR Group and find out how we can help you chart the best course during these challenging times.