Back to School Basics Under the FFCRA

Back-to-school season is in full swing and employers and their parent employees continue to grapple with the variety of plans being implemented by schools. The Department of Labor has recently provided answers on how eligible parent employees may take paid leave from work under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Basically, whenever the child’s school is closed to the child due to COVID-19 reasons and the child is required to learn remotely, FFCRA leave applies.  The eligible parent employee may stay home from work with the child learning online.

When the child’s school has implemented hybrid learning, students split their time between in-person learning and remote learning, an eligible parent employee may take FFCRA leave only on days when remote learning is required and their child is not permitted to attend school in person.

If the parent voluntarily chooses remote learning as opposed to in-person learning, perhaps because the parent fears an infection scenario, the parent employee is not entitled to FFCRA leave because the child’s school is not “closed” to the child due to COVID–19 related reasons; the school is open to the child for in-person learning.

If the child’s school initially institutes remote learning, but later transitions to exclusively in-person instruction, FFCRA leave will no longer be available once the in-person learning begins.  And the opposite will apply if the school starts off in-person, but transitions to remote; FFCRA will be available to the eligible parent employee on remote learning days.  During any transitional hybrid learning period, FFCRA leave applies only to remote instruction days, again, when the parent employee needs to be home with their child learning online.

If a child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine due to COVID-19, eligible parent employees may also be eligible for paid leave under FFCRA, as well.

As with any other matter during this pandemic, back-to-school basics are anything but basic.