The U.S. Department of Labor continues to regularly update its question and answer guidance under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In its latest update, DOL provides helpful guidance on a range of issues involving employee eligibility for paid leave.
First, DOL addressed a situation where an employee who is successfully teleworking requests paid FFCRA leave due to lack of available child care. DOL says that employers may make reasonable inquiries as to the need for leave, including an explanation of any changed circumstances that led to the request. However, even if an employee is currently teleworking, they may still be eligible for FFCRA leave if they are unable to effectively work due to child care needs.
Second, when employees says they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and ask for paid leave to seek a diagnosis, what documentation can the employer require? DOL says that employers can ask about the specific symptoms and ask for confirmation of the date scheduled for a test or doctor’s appointment. However, the employer cannot require medical certification that the employee sought treatment for the symptoms.
Finally, DOL answered employer questions regarding FFCRA child care eligibility after the school year ends. If an employee claims lack of child care resources simply because school is not in session, this would not qualify for leave. However, if the employee demonstrates that summer child care providers are closed due to COVID-19 reasons, this would qualify for FFCRA leave.