Extended school closures mean more leave requests
As school closures due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) are being extended, employers will likely see more leave requests from workers. Officials in Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington have closed in-person instruction through the end of the school year. In Idaho, schools are closed through the end of the school year but local school districts have the option to reopen under criteria to be developed later this month. In Montana, public schools are closed through April 24, although that could be extended.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), on which we previously reported, requires most businesses with fewer than 500 employees to allow workers to take time off to care for their children whose school or place of care has closed due to concerns over COVID-19, for a total of up to 12 weeks. See our Model Policy, Families First Coronavirus Response Act Policy and Model Form, Families First Coronavirus Response Act Leave Request Form. State and local laws may also provide leave rights to care for children in this situation. We previously reported that the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) regulations have been temporarily expanded to include COVID-19 school closures as a type of “sick child” (non-serious health condition) leave which could also last up to a maximum of 12 weeks.
Tips For Employers: There are some paid sick time laws and ordinances that allow leave for certain school closures, but most employees who needed that time off have probably already used it up by now. If workers have used up their available leave, you’ll need to decide how to handle their requests for additional time off. If possible, we recommend extending their authorized time off, given the extraordinary circumstances we’re all in. If this isn’t feasible, though, or if you need help navigating the leave process, contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney for advice.