How can employers police employee requests for FFCRA leave for remote schooling?


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I love my readers.

But there are many added perks of being a client. For example, you get the daily blog posts. Plus, I toss in free weekend updates.

(Yes, I sleep, but rarely.)

In this past weekend’s update, I detailed how the U.S. Department of Labor had just given a lesson to employers on paid sick leave for parents with school-aged children. It’s something about which I had posted previously on LinkedIn, but hadn’t blogged about yet.

Among other things, the DOL confirmed that an employee might choose remote learning for a child when in-person instruction is available. However, that employee cannot get leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) unless the child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine. In that case, the employee may be eligible.

This DOL update elicited a client question: Let’s say a child’s school gives parents the option to choose between remote learning versus in-school, and the parent chooses the former. How do employers police employees that request FFCRA leave anyway?

Good question.

The answer involves updating your existing FFCRA policy and leave request form.

(You have those, right?)

Change the former to make it consistent with the new FFCRA guidance from the DOL.

Update the latter so that someone requesting FFCRA leave to care for a school-aged child must affirm that s/he has not chosen remote learning for a child when in-person instruction is available. Checking a box should be sufficient; no need to go overboard.

Remember to keep this in proper perspective. Initially, the employer pays for FFCRA leave. But, you get a full tax credit later. So, the documentation will help if the IRS audits you.

But, there is a caveat here. Some state or local leave laws may be more employee-friendly. Thus, your mileage may vary there. And, if you’re looking for legal advice on that, this ain’t it.

Clients pay me for that. 😉



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