02 Aug Can Employees Qualify for Childcare Leave Over Summer?
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFFCRA) requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with up to two weeks of paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of expanded family and medical leave to assist employees who are struggling with the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes providing FFCRA leave if the employee is unable to work or telework in order to care for his or her child because of a closure of the child’s place of care due to COVID-19.
While summer is usually the season for children to attend a variety of summer camps and programs, many are unavailable due to the ongoing global health crisis. Faced without available childcare, many employees are wondering if they may still apply for FFCRA leave when school is out of session.
On June 26, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Field Assistance Bulletin explaining when an employee may take leave under the FFCRA to care for a child based on the closure of a summer camp, enrichment program or other summer program for COVID-19 related reasons. Here is a summary of the guidelines:
- An employee who requests FFCRA leave must provide the employer with an oral or written explanation of the reason for leave and a statement that the employee is unable to work because of that reason.
- An employee must provide the name of the child, the name of the school or place of care, and a statement that no other suitable person is available to care for the child.
- An employee must show that the child applied to or was enrolled in a program before it was closed due to COVID-19, or that the child attended a program in prior summers and was eligible to attend again. There may also be other circumstances that show a child’s enrollment or planned enrollment in a camp or program.
Although the DOL states that merely expressing interest in a summer camp or program is not enough to show that a child’s place of care closed due to COVID-19, employers should seek as much information as possible to make a decision regarding the employee’s eligibility for FFCRA that is based on relevant facts and circumstances. Employers should also remain flexible in considering each employee’s individual situation.