Additional Paid Leave for Parents During the Pandemic

In Iowa, most businesses are operating and schools are beginning to reopen either on an in person, virtual or hybrid fashion, helping families who lack child care get back to work during the pandemic. However, with the Governor recently ordering the temporary closure of certain business – bars and nightclubs – in a handful of Iowa counties to flatten the curve ahead of the flu season, it not inconceivable that schools will face the same temporary closures if Corona cases spike.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

While the uncertainty is leaving may parents wondering how they will juggle their jobs and child care if schools must temporarily close as others try to figure out how to do online classes while holding down a job,  legislation remains in place to provide support to working parents when they have to stay home with children during the pandemic. The Families First Corona Virus Response Act (FFCRA), grants two weeks (up to 80 hours) of emergency paid sick leave at 2/3 pay (up to $200 daily) if a parent is unable to work because they need to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or otherwise unavailable due to the pandemic.

Leave is available as long as a school or day care is physically closed, even if a school is providing virtual instruction. For schools partially open – with a child only attending 1 or two days a week in person – the days that the school is closed for in person instruction may also qualify for paid leave. For younger kids in daycare, a working parent must only prove that normal options are unavailable, whether it be a center or nanny, to qualify for paid leave benefits under the act.

The act is not limited to only two weeks. Eligible employees may also be able to secure an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at the same rate of pay, which can be taken intermittent with employer permission to address partial week attendance or temporary closures of schools. What this looks like in practice is that if school is in person three days a week and virtual for the remaining two, an employee may be able to take paid leave to cover the virtual days up to 12 weeks’ worth of leave.

Of course, it is important to note that if an employee has already taken time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act FMLA  within the past 12 months, leave that is typically taken for an employees extended illness or to care for a sick family  member or new born, the leave available under the FFCRA will be reduced.  While many are eligible for paid leave benefits under the act, some employers do not meet the criteria so it is important to contact your HR department to see if paid leave under the Fra is available to you.

Taking leave under the FFCRA allows employees to keep their health insurance and other employee benefits while keeping some income flowing to the family. However, if you have an employment law issue related to taking FMLA or FFCRA leave, including wrongful termination or retaliation, it is important to seek help. Contact the Des Moines employment law offices of Stoltze & Stoltze PLC for help at515.989.8529.