It’s Time to Think About the FFCRA – Again

coronavirus, covid-19

Schools are Disclosing Their New School Year Plan. Your Employees May Need Time Off to Care for Their Children when Schools Are Closed.

The Cares Act was passed back in April 2020 to help families and employees dealing with Coronavirus shutdowns. Part of the Cares Act included the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Under the FFCRA, employees receive paid time off to care for a loved one or themselves if they have Coronavirus and care for a child whose school has closed due to the pandemic.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) was a needed relief for many families desperately trying to figure out what to do with their children while daycares and schools closed for several months. Luckily, parents could earn up to $200 a day to take care of their children, homeschool them, and learn to cope with a new normal for at least 10 weeks.

And then everything began to reopen slowly. Childcare centers started letting kids come back. Camps began to open. The EFMLEA was a temporary relief for a short time. But it seemed to be no longer needed.

Now schools are releasing their reopening plan. Many options include two options: all remote learning or a hybrid model of in school and remote learning. The FFCRA and especially the EFMLEA are in the front of every parent’s mind as they try to navigate homeschooling young children 3 to 5 days a week while still trying to earn a living.

Can Employees Take EFMLEA Intermittently?

The Family and Medical Leave Act allows qualified employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a family member. The leave can be used consecutively. However, it can also be used intermittently, such as one day a week.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act is only available for parents of children whose schools or daycares are closed as a result of Covid-19. As the new school year approaches, many schools are rolling out a hybrid model. This model means children will be in school 2 days a week and learning remotely for 3 days a week.

Therefore, some parents worry they cannot work and homeschool their children three days a week. They wonder if the EFMLEA can cover 3 days a week, and they can work for the other 2 days. The answer is, “maybe.”

The federal government and HR organizations recommend employers offer flexibility in using the EFMLEA. The more flexible employers are with schedules, the more productive employees will be in return. The risk is employees quit, leaving work on the table. When allowing employees to work part-time and take EFMLEA part-time, the employees are there at least 2 days.

Can Employers Refuse Employees Time Off Under the EFMLEA?

The FFCRA allows essential employers to deny their staff leave under the law. However, as with the daily schedule, flexibility is key. As many people attempt to navigate this new normal, they are less concerned about having a job and more concerned about caring for their children.

Therefore, even employers with essential employees must be flexible. Otherwise, they risk losing staff altogether.

As for other employees, employers must provide leave under the guidelines of the act as long as employees qualify. Denying any leave for non-essential, qualified employees open an employer to litigation under the law.

To learn more about the details of the EFMLEA and how they can help parents in the upcoming year, contact the HR professionals at Workplace HCM at 856.334.9711.

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