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School’s Out for Summer – Can I Get Paid Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave to employees for a variety of reasons, including when the employee cannot work or telework because the employee’s child’s school or day care is closed due to COVID-19 related reasons.

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, does that mean that employees can automatically take FFCRA leave during summer vacation? The Department of Labor (DOL) recently answered this question in its Frequently Asked Questions. The answer is no. The DOL explained that FFCRA leave is not available where the school or child care provider is closed for summer vacation, or any other reason that is not related to COVID-19.

The analysis does not end there, however. The DOL further explained that “the employee may be able to take leave if his or her child’s care provider during the summer—a camp or other programs in which the employee’s child is enrolled—is closed or unavailable for a COVID-19 related reason.” (See DOL FAQ 93)

Therefore, employers will need to ask for additional information when an employee makes the simple request to take FFCRA leave because it’s summer vacation for his or her child’s school. With shelter in place orders prohibiting camps from opening in many locations, it is a real possibility that kids will be stuck at home this summer – and employers may be on the hook for FFCRA leave. Bummer summer.