Dealing With FFCRA Leave Requests
With the start of the school year will inevitably come more families facing the realization that they’ll need to take leave under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). What does this mean for you as an employer?
It's important to be mindful of minimum leave allowances set locally. In many cases, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allowances may be greater than what FFCRA requires. If that’s the case, those requirements supersede what you must provide as an employer.
Which Employees Are Eligible For FFCRA Leave?
The FFCRA applies to some public-sector employees and private-sector employers with fewer than 500 employees.
After that, it depends on the child's school options:
- If a child's school is open, offers a choice between virtual or in-person learning, and the parent chooses virtual, that parent isn’t eligible for paid leave.
- If the school is open on a part-time basis for in-person learning, the parent is eligible for paid leave for the days the school is closed.
- If a school is only open for virtual learning, but an employee's spouse or partner is available to care for the child, the employee?may?not be eligible for paid leave—however, this is difficult to verify and essentially comes down to taking the employee's written word for it.
Then, there's the matter of Intermittent Leave. Essentially, employees have the right to request permission to take leave to care for their children when school buildings are not open or if childcare isn’t available. Recent rulings against the Department of Labor make it uncertain if employers can deny these requests.
What If All FFCRA Leave Gets Used?
FFCRA leave is limited, but the fact remains that you still need to run your business and your employees need to work, as well as take care of their children. Assuming you’re also beyond FMLA leave, you have a few options.
If you want to avoid furloughs or layoffs, the key takeaway is to?be flexible.?This isn’t a normal time for anyone; get creative and realistic about the work that needs to be done and when it can be completed.
- Consider flex scheduling or split shifts. Any parent knows it’s near impossible to dedicate eight straight hours to work when a child is at home. But four-hour shifts, with breaks included, are more manageable. See if your employee would be receptive to a more flexible schedule.
- Focus on tasks, not on time. Especially in office-oriented settings, this makes it easier to divide shifts and sets a clear expectation of a deliverable. If you set several goals that should be accomplishable in 40 hours, why not just set the expectation that those goals should be completed by the end of the week? It allows the employee to stay on task, even if it's not over a traditional shift.
What Do I Have to Document?
You may not require your employees to prove that their child's school or daycare is closed, according to HR Snapshot. You can and should, however, gather the requirements for IRS documentation. Those include:
- The names and ages of the child
- The name of the school, daycare, or caregiver that is closed or unavailable
- An employee statement that no other suitable person (typically a spouse or partner) is available to care for the child during leave
- The specific dates of the request