In the latest HR updates of 2020, school has become the source of many complications. Many employers are now grappling with what do if their employees are facing yet another semester of remote or hybrid learning and limited childcare. To bring a little more clarity to employers as they try to do some strategic HR planning around this topic, the DOL recently released an FAQ with more information about FFCRA leaves and scenarios that this new school year might bring. Here are the human resource updates you need to know right now.
Human resource updates: alternating-day school and childcare schedules
In these latest HR updates, the DOL clarified that parents who are dealing with an alternating, or partial daycare or school schedule can take their FFCRA leave intermittently. They can only do so if they are the only qualified and available person who can take care of their children when their daycare or school is not in session. Essentially, the DOL considers the daycare or school ‘closed’ on the days when the child(ren) cannot attend in person, so the parent is a perfect candidate for a paid leave of absence under the FFCRA for that time. This kind of intermittent leave might require some creative juggling of duties. One of the best HR strategies our HR experts suggest is job sharing. You could have two parents taking intermittent leave share the work of one role. You could also consider temporarily moving a parent who needs intermittent leave to non-exempt duties and status. This should be something you discuss with the employee, trying to come to a final agreement that works for everyone.
Human resource updates for an uncertain school year
The DOL clarified options for parents whose children are starting school remotely, with the possibility of resuming in-person scheduling in the future. While the school is operating fully remotely, parents are eligible to take an FFCRA leave. If the school changes its plan, however, the parent may become ineligible for a paid FFCRA leave. An HR department should leave flexibility in its strategic HR planning to reevaluate in scenarios like this, rather than simply letting a parent continue to take the FFCRA leave they already started.
If, at some point, the parent no longer qualifies for FFCRA leave, the best thing an employer can do is to try to find some new accommodation or alternative scheduling that will work for everyone. Simply denying the FFCRA leave will seriously hurt employee relations, productivity, and may even result in a loss of talent or some damage to your reputation as a great workplace. In the era of the Internet, treating your employees well and creating a positive work environment is key to attracting and retaining top talent. With sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, the things you do to upset your employees may become public very quickly.
Human resource updates for parents who choose to keep their children home
In perhaps the most aggressive part of the guidance, the DOL clarified that parents who are seeking an FFCRA leave when they choose to keep their child home from school and daycare are not eligible. If the parent has options, for instance, a school that is allowing children to learn in the classroom or remotely, they cannot get FFCRA leave to care for their kids. The exception here would be if the child must self-quarantine or self-isolate per the advice of a healthcare provider. Again, as mentioned above, the best thing an employer can do in this situation is to try to support the parent in their decisions. If the parent does not want to send their child to school or daycare, even if they have the option to, try to work something out with them. Perhaps they can work remotely, work reduced hours, or use their PTO provided by the company. You could also consider transferring them temporarily to a new branch, department, or role that will be better suited for their new scheduling needs. If you take the time to think about it, there are many options to consider, even if a parent is not eligible for FFCRA leave.
Want to dive deeper in preparing for remote and hybrid school options? Check out the article here.
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