Normal life is no longer the standard. Every day, individuals and families must adjust to the evolving coronavirus outbreak, taking steps to ensure loved ones – particularly children – are protected and cared for. Employers are expected to be flexible and understanding as well.
As part of a broader pandemic relief bill, employees at many smaller businesses (fewer than 500 workers) have access to temporarily expanded Family and Medical Leave Act benefits. These benefits allow employees to take protected time off work if certain childcare conditions are met. Here are four things you should know about these regulations.
1. Most employees get 2 weeks – some get 10 more
If an employee needs to care for their child or children because school or daycare is unavailable as a result of COVID-19, they have access to two weeks of time off. This applies to just about every employee at eligible employers. Someone experiencing a “substantially similar condition” might also qualify.
An employee that has worked for their employer for at least 30 days may have access to additional time off. That employee could be eligible for another 10 weeks of paid leave for applicable childcare-related reasons.
2. This is paid leave – not unpaid
This protected time off is paid leave, not unpaid. However, you won’t receive your full wages. During both the two-week period and additional 10 weeks of time off, an employee will be paid at two-thirds of their regular rate.
3. The time off can be intermittent
You are not automatically required to use this time off in a single swoop. If your employer agrees to it, you can use the time off intermittently. That could be a few hours here and there on certain days of the week, or even full days during the workweek as needed. You are encouraged to work with your employer to reach an agreement on this.
4. You cannot lose your job for using this time off
You cannot lose your job or be discriminated against at work because you took advantage of this expanded leave opportunity. When you come back, your employer usually has to return you to the same job, or an equivalent position. There are a few exceptions for very small businesses, or for layoffs that would have occurred regardless of the use of paid time off.
If an employer wrongly denies your expanded leave request or retaliates against you for utilizing this benefit, you may be able to use legal action to hold them accountable.