“Families First” Pandemic Relief May Be Available As The School Year Begins

Back to School and Pandemic Relief for Parents.

Remember, “Families First” Paid Leave May be Available

In the midst of the worst health crisis in 100 years, schools in Illinois have begun reopening for the new academic year. This can have a direct impact on working parents who now face continued challenges based on trying to find a work/life balance. The “new normal” as it relates to school reopening is anything but “normal”, forcing some working parents to make difficult choices between staying home and caring/educating their school age children on the one hand and needing to work at the same time. Under the “old” normal, a child went off to school for a block of time and a working parent went off to his/her job. That is NOT the case under the current school models, which can be a mix of total in class attendance, pure remote learning, hybrid classes, or an option of the two.

While trying to sort things out, remember, there may be paid sick to a working parent under the Families First Corona Response Act (“FFCRA”). The FFCRA provides for emergency paid leave and extended family care paid leave (up to certain limits) to assist parents dealing with school issues. What many working parents may have forgotten is that the leave/sick pay provisions under FFCRA run clear through December 31, 2020.

Generally, private sector employers covered under the FFCRA (those with 500 or fewer employees) must provide employees up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for up to $200.00 per day and $12,000.00 total. In order to qualify for this Covid – 19 related benefit, the employee must be unable to work, including unable to telework, because the employee is caring for his/her child whose school or place of care is closed (or whose child care provider is unavailable) due to Covid-19 related reasons.

Lets look at 4 possible scenarios to consider;

  1. Schools Offering Remote Learning Only: FFCRA paid leave is available if the employee is forced to actually care for the child and no other suitable person in the home is available. n this instance, the employee is eligible for 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave (maximum of $511 per day) and a subsequent 10 weeks of extended family leave (maximum of $200 per day), assuming the employee has that amount of family leave available.
  2. Schools Offering In-Person Learning Only: No relief under the FFRCA.
  3. Schools Offering a “Hybrid” Model: This situation arises where the school offers some days of in person learning and some days are handled through remote learning. Benefits under the FFRCA are available only on days when the child is not permitted to attend school and must engage in remote learning (assuming the requested leave is to care for the child and no other suitable person is available in the home).
  4. Schools Offering the Option For Either In Person Learning or Remote Learning: No benefits under the FFCRA are available, even if the employee chooses to have the child stay home and engage in remote learning, because the school is “not closed.”

Schools and parents are still navigating in uncharted waters. Further pandemic relief efforts may be passed by legislators. Certainly, some of the above guidelines may change over time.

As you can see, there are a number of questions and areas of potential uncertainty brought about by this national health crisis which can dramatically affect employment. We are here to help guide you through these turbulent times.  A law firm that concentrates in employment related matters like ours can help navigate this maze of new laws. With over 36 years’ experience in advising employers and employees on workplace issues, let Boznos Law work with you to ensure you are ready to meet the challenges posed by the changes to the employment laws. Call Bill Boznos today at (630) 375-1958 or contact us at through our website at www.boznoslawoffice.com.  

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