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With Summer Vacation on the Way, Are Employees Still Entitled to Childcare Leave under EFMLEA?

Distance learning/homeschooling is finally starting to wrap-up for millions of students across America, a perhaps welcomed end for many, and summer vacation will soon begin. Your employees may have questions as to whether they qualify for child care leave under the expanded FMLA (“EFMLEA”), which many employees used over the last few months to receive partial compensation while they were away from work to care for their children. Now, employers with fewer than 500 employees must take note of additional guidance recently published concerning qualification for childcare leave.

Recently, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) provided guidance on this question:

"Can employees take paid leave to care for a child under the EFMLEA or the paid sick leave under the child care provisions of Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) when school is closed for summer vacation?"

The DOL stated no. Paid leave under EFMLEA and EPSLA are not available to provide child care “if the school or child care provider is closed for summer vacation, or any other reason that is not related to COVID-19. However, the employee may be able to take leave if his or her child’s care provider during the summer - a camp or other programs in which the employee’s child is enrolled - is closed or unavailable for a COVID-19 related reason.” Meaning, an employee who requests leave because schools or childcare providers are closing for the summer, is not eligible for the emergency childcare leave. 

If you have any employees who are using the paid childcare leave because they have been unable to work due to homeschooling or home childcare requirements, the employer has been receiving tax credits for those payments. However, once school is no longer in session, the paid childcare leave is no longer applicable, and the employer will not be entitled to credits for any payments. For this reason, the employer needs to stop the childcare payments.

Please also keep this in mind for any childcare leave requests over the summer. A school or daycare that is closed for summer vacation does not qualify for COVID-19 emergency leave. However, employees may still be eligible for childcare leave over the summer if a child’s normal, summer childcare provider is closed for a COVID-19 related reason, such as summer camp closures. 

We recommend that all employers review this issue with any employees who are currently out on emergency childcare leave. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us with any additional questions or concerns.

Bryan Meek is a member of Brennan, Manna & Diamond’s Labor & Employment team and is available to assist you with responding to requests for information and/or appealing unfavorable unemployment decisions. Bryan can be reached at 330.253.5586, or bmeek@bmdllc.com.

HHS Announces an Additional $20 Billion In Provider Relief Grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced an additional $20 billion in new funding for providers on October 1, 2020. Eligible providers include those that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments as well as previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic. The new Phase 3 General Distribution is designed to balance an equitable payment of 2% of annual revenue from patient care for all applicants plus an add-on payment to account for revenue losses and expenses attributable to COVID-19.

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.