Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), an employee is entitled to paid sick leave and/or expanded family and medical leave if the employee is unable to work (including telework) because he or she needs to care for his or her child if (a) the child’s school or place of care is closed, or (b) the child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19-related reasons.  An employee may take paid sick leave to care for his or her child only when the employee needs to, and actually is, caring for his or her child. The US Dept. of Labor stated “generally, an employee does not need to take such leave if another suitable individual — such as a co-parent, co-guardian, or the usual child care provider — is available to provide the care the employee’s child needs.”

Can an employee take paid leave under the FFCRA if his or her preferred summer child care provider – a camp, daycare or other program - is closed for COVID-19 related reasons, but other options are available?

This specific question has not been addressed by the USDOL, but the answer likely comes down to whether the preferred summer care provider can be considered “the usual child care provider”.  If the employee’s child attended the program last summer or during some other recent time, for instance, and the program is closed for COVID-19 reasons, the employee is likely eligible for FFCRA leave.  If not, the employee may be required to consider alternative, suitable child care options.


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