Emergency Leave--Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The federal government recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to provide emergency leave to employees who are unable to work or work remotely for reasons related to COVID-19. The act took effect on April 1. See this notice from the U.S. Department of Labor. This leave is in addition to the 80 hours of University emergency leave that went into effect on March 23. It is also separate from any regular sick leave you may have accrued.

The act:

  • Provides up to two weeks of paid emergency sick leave for six specific COVID-related situations. (See below.)
  • Extends the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide up to 12 weeks (both unpaid and paid) to care for children whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID, while protecting the employee’s job during that time.

If you believe you qualify for FFCRA leave for one of the reasons listed below, contact your supervisor or your unit’s HR representative. If you are approved for this leave, OHR will email you asking for general information about the reason for your leave, which is required by the federal government.

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FFCRA’s Emergency Paid Sick Leave

  • Full-time employees can take up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick time if they cannot work (remotely or otherwise) for any of the reasons listed in the chart below.
  • Eligible part-time employees can take paid sick time equal to the number of hours they work on average over a two-week period.
1 Under federal, state, or local government-ordered quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19
2 Under doctor-advised self-isolation related to COVID-19
3 Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis
4 Caring for a family member under a government-ordered quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19
5 Caring for a family member under a doctor-advised quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19
6 Caring for your child because of a COVID-related school or childcare closure.

Expanded Paid Family Medical Leave

  • Provides 2 weeks unpaid, and then up to 10 more weeks, of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to $10,000) if an employee is unable to work in order to care for a child whose school or childcare is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • The employee may elect to use emergency paid sick leave or substitute any other form of available paid leave they may have for the first two weeks.
  • For the remaining weeks, the employee must use the accrued sick, compensatory, or vacation leave available to them under University policy or bargaining agreement for the reason of caring for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed. The amount paid using these accrued leaves is included in the $10,000 limit.
  • If the employee exhausts their accrued University leave, the University will continue to pay the employee at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay for up to 10 weeks or $10,000.
  • The employee must have worked at the University for at least 30 calendar days to qualify.
  • All FMLA job protections apply.

If you have questions about the FFCRA or your eligibility, please contact your unit’s HR representative, or email or call the OHR Contact Center at ohr@umn.edu, 612-624-8647, or 800-756-2363.

FFCRA and Working Parents

If a child's school is starting the school year solely under a remote learning program due to COVID-19 concerns, employees may take FFCRA leave. An employee may take paid FFCRA leave while the child's school remains closed and only remote learning is available, because the school is closed in this scenario. However, if the school reopens, whether FFCRA leave is available will depend on the type of reopening, as discussed below.

An employee may take FFCRA leave on a child's remote learning days in a hybrid learning method. Some schools are using a "hybrid" or "alternate day" attendance method. Generally, this is when a school is open every day, but each student is only on site some days and remote learning on other days. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), an employee is eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA on days when the employee's child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning. The DOL clarifies that this leave can be taken as long as the employee is actually caring for the child during that time and only if no other suitable person is available to do so.

FFCRA leave is not available to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance, but the employee chose a remote learning option for the child. Some schools provide parents with a choice of in-person attendance or remote learning. If an employee chooses remote learning, FFCRA leave is not available because the school is not closed due to COVID-19 reasons; the employee chose to have the child remain home. However, the U.S. Department of Labor says that if a child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine, the employee may take paid leave to care for the child.