By Jennifer Jacobus, PHRca, SHRM-CP SDEA Director of HR Services.
SCHOOLS OUT FOR SUMMER…or longer
With the recent announcement of the San Diego School District, following in line with the Los Angeles School District, officially stating that they will not be going back to the classrooms in the Fall but will instead continue with distance learning, employers need to plan now.
There are going to be employees who now may be faced with making some tough decisions on whether they can continue to work and earn a living or if they have to stay home for distance learning for their child or children.
As a reminder, the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), enacted earlier this year, provides job-protected paid leave for employees who cannot work due to Coronavirus-related reasons. Part of the Act, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL), provides 80 hours of paid sick leave for the employee’s own illness, the employee’s need to self-quarantine due to COVID-19, and for a quarantine or isolation order from a medical provider or as mandated by government authorities – and if an employee is unable to work or telework due to childcare or school not being open due to COVID-19. The Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA), provides an additional 10 weeks of leave for employee’s who need to stay home with a child due to their child’s school or daycare being closed.
At this time, these leaves are available to employees who need them until the end of the year, December 31, 2020. These job-protected leaves may very well be extended if the COVID-19 curve does not drop significantly.
Employees who have not used that time and now need it are still eligible for the paid leave. Employees who are eligible for the leave should receive 2/3 of their regular rate of pay (up to $200/day) for up to 12 weeks under EPSL and EFMLA.
The EFMLA can also be used intermittently. This may allow an employee to work some hours during a workday or some days during a workweek and use the leave on an intermittent basis
In addition to, or in lieu of this option, employers have been encouraged to consider remote working during this entire pandemic; this should still be a consideration. This applies to essential businesses who have never closed, those business that were closed and are now open, etc. If it is conceivable for your business, remote work should always be on the table as an option.
For remote workers, business-related expenses need to be factored in. These can include data plans for cell phones, Wi-fi, printer paper and ink and maybe even a computer or laptop. Even with remote work, the employer is responsible for expenses related to the cost of doing business. Non-exempt employees are still required to record all hours worked including time in and out for meal periods.
Flexibility is the name of the game. Employers are strongly encouraged to work with their employees to enable them to continue working. Employers should not automatically rule out remote work “just because” it’s never been done before, because those employees will not have direct supervision, or because there may be an initial added expense.
This is probably a circumstance of “when” vs. “if” for most employers so plan
and contact SDEA if you need additional assistance.