Payroll Briefs

DOL Offers Back-to-School Paid Leave Guidance

September 16, 2020

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) and Employment and Training Administration (ETA) recently published new guidance providing insight into the reopening of schools across the country. The guidance includes a new FAQs section offering further information to both employees and employers about paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). As schools begin the unprecedented process of reopening amidst a global pandemic, the FAQs could not have come for a better time for working parents as well as their employers. DM Payroll Solutions explores the new guidance and what employers of working parents should be aware of related to paid leave.

Insights into the New FAQs

Parents continue to face many new challenges balancing work and family duties during the COVID-19 crisis, therefore the new FAQs are intended to help ease the burden by ensuring both workers and employers understand the availability of paid leave. Given this is a new and unfamiliar time for many parents with school-age children, the DOL has received an influx in requests for guidance on the topic.

The FAQs detail the eligibility for paid leave concerning the different formats and schedules schools plan to use upon reopening. These formats include hybrid learning with in-person classes as well as learning from a distance. Since schools have never had to plan for a school year such as this one, the WHD’s guidance was much needed in order to outline the benefits and protections available under the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA. Specifically, the WHD addressed paid leave questions for three scenarios:

  1. Parents whose children attend school on an alternate day basis
  2. Parents who elect remote learning when in-person classes are an option
  3. Parents whose children start with remote learning but move to in-person classes

In each situation, the ability to take paid leave is different.

Scenario A

Parents are permitted to take paid leave on the alternating days in which their children are unable to physically attend school under the condition there isn’t anyone else available to care for the children.

Scenario B

Parents are not permitted to receive paid leave if they elect to have their children learn remotely. FFCRA rules apply to when a school is “closed” and since the option for children to attend in-person is available, paid leave is not applicable.

Scenario C

Parents are permitted to take paid leave while their children’s school remains closed. When the school reopens, paid leave eligibility may change depending on the school’s operations.

Long-Awaited Answers

This new information provides highly-requested clarity for both working parents and their employers as the country continues to navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For more information on FFCRA paid leave, the DOL’s FAQs are available online as well as a tool to determine paid leave eligibility. In the meantime, if you have questions about how ensure payroll is properly accounted for in regard to your working-parent employees, contact DM Payroll Solutions today.