The federal Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a field assistance bulletin to clarify when employees can take leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) due to the closure of their child’s summer camp or other summer program. As we previously reported, the FFCRA allows employees to take leave for a number of reasons related to COVID-19 (coronavirus), including when their child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the care provider is unavailable, due to a public health emergency. The DOL’s regulations say “place of care” includes summer camps and summer enrichment programs. In other words, if a child’s summer camp is closed due to a public health emergency, such as COVID-19, the employee may be able to take FFCRA leave.
The DOL’s field assistance bulletin 2020-4 gives some clarity on summer camp closure situations that may – or may not – qualify an employee for FFCRA leave. Generally, if it was more likely than not that a child would have attended a summer camp or program, and that camp or program is now closed because of COVID-19, the employee probably qualifies for FFCRA leave, as long as they meet all the other leave requirements under the FFCRA. The same is also true if a child would have attended the camp or program if it didn’t have limited or reduced capacity because of COVID-19. For example, if an employee submitted an application or made a deposit to a camp or program for their child, and the program then closed due to COVID-19, that camp or program is probably a “place of care” under the FFCRA. Similarly, if a child attended the same camp or program in previous years, and would still be eligible this year, but can’t attend because it’s only accepting a limited number of children due to COVID-19, the camp or program is probably a “place of care” under the FFCRA.
Tips: The bulletin gives a few examples of situations in which a summer camp or program wouldn’t qualify as a “place of care,” but employers should remain flexible, since the DOL states that there’s no one-size-fits-all rule. The DOL is clear that even if employees had advance notice of a summer camp or program closure and you think they had plenty of time to prepare, the employee may still qualify for FFCRA leave if their child would’ve attended the camp had it not closed. Employees still have to comply with all the other FFCRA leave requirements. Check out our Model Policy, Families First Coronavirus Response Act Policy, and our Model Form, Families First Coronavirus Response Act Leave Request Form, and contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney with any questions.