Putting families first this fall means that some workers will require paid leave. Know now who is eligible and when.
Your employees with children, especially as schools prepare to go back in session, are under tremendous stress. With many schools opening for in-person or remote learning or a hybrid model, your working moms and dads likely will have to spend some of their time juggling work and schooling.
Some of your employees may have support systems that enable them to continue working while their kids are in school. However, others may need to take time off. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), they may be entitled to emergency paid leave if:
- Their child is out of school because of COVID-19-related reasons. Employees may get up to 12 weeks of paid leave if their child’s school or place of care is closed because of the coronavirus and the employee cannot work onsite or remotely.
- When the child’s school is physically closed but still in session online (therefore, the child is still expected to complete assignments).
- When their child’s school is operating on a hybrid model. A working parent may be entitled to intermittent paid leave (at the employer’s discretion) if the school is physically open only part-time. In these situations, the employer may want to work with the employee on a modified schedule to enable a parent to continue working.
An employee isn’t entitled to paid leave if the child’s school is open but the parent decides to pursue homeschooling. In these cases, however, the employer may consider enabling the employee to work remotely if possible. It is important to note that employers aren’t required to pay currently remote employees the same salaries they earned in the office. However, it’s advised that you review local and federal laws before making any salary reductions or changes.
To make sure parents are able to balance schooling with work, employers can:
- Require employees to record hours worked accurately and provide regular updates on the progress and accomplishments.
- Ensure remote workers have the technology, tools, and supports to function successfully at home. This should include efforts to address cybersecurity and enable participation in virtual meetings. Many states require employers to reimburse remote employees for at-home business expenses.
While it is important to know your and your employees’ rights regarding the FFCRA, it also is essential to have strong, clear policies in place that are carried out fairly and equitably. If there are exceptions to the rules, your policies should address these in detail.
Your employees are counting on you to help them through these challenging times, so consider ways you can support them as working parents and people who want to work.