As companies begin to develop plans for the safe return of their workers, we’re hearing one question asked again and again: What happens if a business reopens but an employee cannot return to work because she has a child at home whose school or regular place of care is closed?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but employers should be aware of two possible scenarios:
Scenario 1. The employer is covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). For these employers, it likely makes sense for the employee to take advantage of the leave available to them under the FFCRA. You can read more about the FFCRA here. Remember, FFCRA leave is not available to employees who can telework.
Practice Pointer: If you’re planning to bring staff back to work, be sure you’ve circulated to them the required FFCRA notice.
Scenario 2. Any employee can be eligible for PUA unemployment benefits if she needs to stay home to care for a child whose school/place of care is closed. In order to be eligible for this benefit, the employee must be the primary caregiver for the child who requires care.
Employees aren’t required to exhaust FFCRA leave before electing to go on unemployment; however, unemployment may be a good option for employees who’ve exhausted FFCRA leave but still must stay home to care for a child.
Employers should keep in mind that FFCRA leave is job-protected whereas the receipt of unemployment benefits does not provide for job protection.
This is one of many hurdles employers will face as we navigate the reopening of businesses. If you have questions about best practices or how to comply with the variety of new coronavirus laws, contact us. Our attorneys will provide the tools you need for a smooth transition back to work.