FFCRA Frequently Asked Questions

A List of Commonly Asked Questions About Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

QUESTIONS REGARDING LEAVE BENEFITS PROVIDED UNDER THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (FFCRA)

What is the FFCRA?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is the name for the legislation recently passed by Congress.  The Act provides many workers with paid leave due to COVID related illnesses/exposures and child care/school closures. The law is effective April 1​, 2020 and expires December 31, 2020.

The are two main components: Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion (E-FMLE).

 

Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL)

Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion (E-FMLE)

Eligible employees

All employees who are expected to work or telework between April 1 – December 31, 2020.

All employees who have been employed 30 or more days and are expected to work or telework between April 1 – December 31, 2020.

Employees quarantined, subject to an isolation order or experiencing a COVID-19 related illness

Up to two weeks of paid leave. Maximum benefit is $511/day (not to exceed $5,100)

E-FMLE does not apply.

Employees caring for a family member that has been quarantined, subject to an isolation order or experiencing a COVID-19 related illness.

Up to two weeks of leave at 2/3 pay. Maximum benefit of $200/day (not to exceed $2,000)

E-FMLE does not apply.

Employees whose school or child care is closed due to COVID-19

Up to two weeks of leave at 2/3 pay. Maximum payment of $200/day (not to exceed $2,000)

Up to 10 weeks of leave at 2/3 pay. Maximum payment of $200/day (not to exceed $10,000)

If EPSL and E-FMLE only provides 2/3 of my regular rate of pay, can I use my own leave to make up the difference?

An employee may supplement EPSL with sick leave if the absence is due to the employee’s illness or to care for an individual who has been quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19.  

Employees using EPSL because their school or child care center is closed may not use their leave to supplement. 

Can I get both EPSL and E-FMLE if I am home with my child because school is closed or childcare is unavailable?

An employee may apply for EPSL to cover the first 10 days of required absence due to school or child care closure. If approved, EPSL is paid at 2/3 of the employee's regular rate of pay. 

A separate application form is required to request E-FMLE. If approved for E-FMLE, the employee will receive 2/3 of his/her regular rate of pay for 10 weeks.  

The combined entitlement for EPSL and E-FMLE for school or child care closures is a maximum of 12 weeks. Employees may not supplement EPSL or E-FMLE if the reason for the leave is due to school or child care closure.

I am a temporary/hourly employee or a substitute teacher. Am I eligible for EPSL or E-FMLE?

Yes, but only if you were expected to work (or telework) on or after April 1 and unable to do so for an eligible COVID-19 related reason. To qualify for E-FMLE, you must have been employed 30 or more days prior to your request for leave.

If you were advised not to report to work or telework due to lack of work because of school or facility closures, you are not eligible for either leave type. 

If I decide NOT to request EPSL or E-FMLE, can I use my own leave to cover my COVID-related absence?

An employee can choose to use his/her annual sick leave instead of EPSL or E-FMLE provided the it is an allowable use under FCPS leave regulations. Requests for annual/sick leave are subject to the normal absence approval process. As with other requests to use leave, they are granted by your principal or program manager and do not provide the same specific job protections under FFCRA.

If I exhaust my EPSL and/or E-FMLE and still need time away from work for a COVID-related reason, will I be able to use my leave to cover my absence?

A number of factors affect your ability to use leave. If you have exhausted your benefits under EPSL and/or E-FMLE, we recommend contacting the Disability and Leaves Team at 571-423-3200 to discuss your situation.

If I was not able to work because of my child's school closure prior to April 1, 2020, am I able to use EPSL and E-FMLE retroactively?

No. E-FMLE and EPSL can only be used for qualifying absences on or after April 1, 2020.

If I do not use EPSL or E-FMLE by December 31, 2020, do the hours carry over into standard FMLA and sick leave benefits?

No, there are no ‘rollover’ provisions for these leave types. Unless the Act is extended by Congress, leave benefits under the Act will end on December 31, 2020.

QUESTIONS ABOUT EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE

What is Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSL)?

EPSL is a federally mandated leave that provides paid sick leave when an employee is unable to work for a qualifying reason related to COVID-19. Paid leave under EPSL is for a maximum of two weeks and based on the employee’s schedule work hours. EPSL is divided into three categories:

Employee is ill or quarantined due to COVID-19. An employee may receive up to two weeks of pay (subject to a daily maximum of $511, $5,110 in total) when the employee is unable to work for one of the following:

  • Employee is subject to quarantine or isolation* due to an order by a federal, state or local entity;
  • Employee is advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine;
  • Employee is experiencing symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis;
  • Employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Employee is caring for individual who is ill or quarantined due to COVID-19. An employee may receive up to two weeks of partial pay (2/3 of regular pay, not to exceed $200 per day; $2,000 in total) when the employee is:

  • Caring for an individual subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order* or the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine.

Child’s School or Day Care Center is Closed Due to COVID-19. An employee may receive up to two weeks of partial pay (2/3 of regular pay, not to exceed $200 per day) when the employee is:

  • Caring for his/her own child/children due to closure of school or childcare provider is unavailable due to the public health emergency.

*Per the Virginia Department of Health and the Fairfax County Health Department, quarantine applies to a well-person who has been exposed to someone who is sick with COVID and who's movement is restricted. Isolation applies to a person who is isolating at home due to a diagnosis or symptoms of COVID-19.

  

What pay can I expect for EPSL for my own quarantine, isolation or COVID-19 related illness?

EPSL will provide up to two weeks of pay (based on the employee’s scheduled hours). When taken due to an employee’s own illness or quarantine, EPSL will not exceed $511 per day or $5,110 in total.

What pay can I expect for EPSL to care for another individual who is under quarantine, isolation order or ill due to COVID-19.

EPSL will provide up to two weeks of pay at 2/3rd the employee’s regular rate of pay based on the employee’s scheduled hours. When EPSL is taken to care for an individual who is quarantined, isolated or ill due to COVID-19, EPSL will not exceed $200 per day or $2,000 total.

Can I use EPSL because I am in a position that does not permit telework and I want to limit my own personal exposure to COVID?

No, this is not an allowable use of EPSL.

I need to care for a family member who is quarantined. What is the definition of family in order to use EPSL?

You may take EPSL to care for an individual who, as a result of being subject to a quarantine or isolation order, is unable to care for him or herself and depends on you for care and if providing care prevents you from working and from teleworking.

Furthermore, you may only take paid sick leave to care for an individual who genuinely needs your care. Such an individual includes an immediate family member or someone who regularly resides in your home. You may also take paid sick leave to care for someone if your relationship creates an expectation that you would care for the person in a quarantine or self-quarantine situation, and that individual depends on you for care during the quarantine or self-quarantine.

You may not take paid sick leave to care for someone with whom you have no relationship. Nor can you take paid sick leave to care for someone who does not expect or depend on your care during his or her quarantine or self-quarantine.

What happens when I exhaust my EPSL and I am still unable to return to work?

Contact the Disability and Leaves office to discuss your options. Depending on the reason for your absence, you may qualify for Emergency Family Medical Leave (E-FMLE), ‘classic’ FMLA, or an unpaid Leave of Absence (LOA).

If EPSL provides less than my full rate of pay, am I able to supplement with my own leave?

You may supplement EPSL with your sick leave if:

  • you would receive less than your full pay, and
  • you are quarantined due to COVID-19 or caring for an eligible family member who is quarantined due to COVID-19. 

You are not eligible to supplement your pay if the reason you are taking E-FMLE is because your child’s school or day care is closed. 

After taking EPSL for my own illness or quarantine, what documentation do I need to return to work?

The employee's health care provider will need to provide written documentation that supports an employee is able to return to work. This documentation should be provided to the Disability and Leaves team in the Office of Benefit Services so they may help effect your return. This documentation is required even the employee is expected to work remotely.

If I take two weeks of EPSL for my own self-quarantine, can I take another two weeks EPSL for another reason provided by the act?

No, EPSL is capped at a maximum of two weeks for any combination of qualifying reasons.

Can I use EPSL for 4 hours of leave in the morning and then work the remainder of the day?

No. EPSL must be used in full day increments for all qualifying event reasons except for school closings or daycare unavailability as arranged between the employee and the employee's supervisor.

How do I code my time for EPSL?

The Office of Benefit Services will enter your time for EPSL after reviewing your request and supporting documentation. 

Do I need to provide documentation to my Principal or Program Manager to use EPSL and by when?

Employees must provide documentation to support the use of EPSL as soon as possible, but no later than 15 calendar days of requesting leave. Required documentation may include a copy of federal, state or local quarantine or isolation or related to COVID-19 or written documentation by a health care provider advising employee to self-quarantine due to COVID-19.​​  This documentation must be submitted to the Disability and Leaves team in the Office of Benefit Services.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE EMERGENCY FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE EXPANSION (E-FMLE)

What is the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion (E-FMLE)?

E-FMLE is federally mandated, partially paid leave for employees who are unable to work or telework because they must care for a child or children under age 18 whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19. It may also be used to care for a child age 18 or older who is disabled and incapable of self-support.

E-FMLE is in addition to EPSL and must be applied for using a separate application. E-FMLE is provided for a maximum of 10 weeks at 2/3 of the employee’s regular salary (not to exceed $200 per day and $10,000 total). 

E-FMLE is available no earlier than April 1, 2020, and eligibility ends December 31, 2020.

Who is eligible for the new E-FMLE provisions?

The E-FMLE provisions apply to employees who have been employed by FCPS for at least 30 days and who are expected to work (or telework) but unable to due to COVID-19 related school or child care closures.

Is my job protected if I take E-FMLE?

Just like original FMLA, an employee's restoration is protected to the same or equivalent position upon return to work. 

Can I use E-FMLE to care for a child who is 18 years or older?

An employee can request E-FMLE for a child over the age of 18 only if the child is disabled and the child's care provider (or place of care) is unavailable due to a COVID-19 related reason.

My spouse and I both work for FCPS. Can we each use the 10 weeks of E-FMLE?

No. According to IRS guidance, only one employee can use E-FMLE during the same period of time; however, each employee will be eligible to take up to 12 weeks of E-FMLE intermittently as long as the qualifying event remains ​and/or entitlement is available. For example, a husband and wife are both working part-time telework arrangements alternating days off to provide care for their school age children. If the husband has arranged to be with his children on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and his wife has arranged to care for the children on Tuesday and Thursday, both parents may use EPSL intermittently on the days they have committed to care for their children. Both parents cannot be providing care and coding E-FMLE on the same days.

How much leave can I take under E-FMLE?

Eligible employees are entitled to take up to 10 weeks of E-FMLE leave for a qualifying event related to COVID-19. This leave is coordinated with any other FMLA leave the employee has taken during the 12 months preceding the leave request. Therefore, if an employee has used their 12 week entitlement of FMLA, he/she is not eligible for E-FMLE.

Do I get paid leave during an E-FMLE qualifying event?

The first 10 workdays are unpaid, but an employee may separately apply for Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) which provides partial payment for this period. The remaining 10 weeks are paid at 2/3 of the employee's regular rate of pay for the his/her normal scheduled work hours, not to exceed $200 a day or $10,000 total.

INTEGRATION OF EPSL, E-FMLE, AND STANDARD FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE (FMLA)

If I am currently on FMLA, how does E-FMLE affect my current leave entitlement?

E-FMLE is an amendment to the FMLA, so the E-FMLE entitlement runs concurrent to any existing entitlement and is coordinated with any prior and future FMLA entitlement. For example, if an employee was on FMLA for 4 weeks due to a serious health condition in January 2020, the employee would only have an additional 8 weeks of E-FMLE as of April 1st to use for a school closure-related event.

If an employee is currently out for a continuous FMLA event for his/her own serious health condition or for a family member's serious health condition, the employee will not be eligible for E-FMLE until the continuous event ends. For example, the employee is on FMLA due to surgery for 10 weeks, he/she will not be eligible for E-FMLE until the conclusion of those 10 weeks or until released by the healthcare provider. In this example the employee would then be eligible for 2 weeks of E-FMLE.

If I take EPSL for another individual's quarantine or isolation order does this qualify me to also take FMLA?

An employee who is caring for an individual in quarantine or isolation is not eligible for classic FMLA; the 14-day quarantine or isolation in itself is not an FMLA qualifying absence

What happens if I exhaust my E-FMLE and I am not able to return to work?

An employee’s entitlement to EPSL, E-FMLE, and FMLA covers a maximum of 12 weeks. Employees who are absent from work due to their own illness or quarantine should apply for Short Term Disability benefits.

Employees who are unable to work due to child care related reasons will be absent after that date should apply for a Leave of Absence (LOA), which is subject to approval. 

If I am under quarantine or isolation order as advised by a health care provider, would this be considered a qualifying absence under FMLA?

No. If a healthcare provider advises an employee to self-quarantine or self-isolate, this does not meet the definition of a qualifying event under original FMLA even if a written note has been provided by the employee's health care provider. 

If I am on FMLA intermittent leave, am I able to qualify for E-FMLE?

If an employee is currently on an intermittent FMLA event for a serious health condition or a family member's serious health condition, the employee will be eligible for E-FMLE only for school/child care closures and only for the remaining total entitlement. For example, if the employee is taking FMLA as a caregiver 2 days a week, he/she can request E-FMLE for the remaining days to provide childcare.  E-FMLE for child care reasons cannot exceed 10 weeks, and the combined FMLA and E-FMLE usage cannot exceed 12 weeks.

Are all FMLA events now eligible for federal-mandated paid leave?

No. E-FMLE only applies to leave needed to care for child under age 18 (or disabled child, if older than 18) due to a COVID-19 related closure of the child’s school or care providers.

BENEFITS QUESTIONS

I am a temporary/hourly employee or substitute teacher who receives health benefits under the Affordable Care Act. Will my health benefits continue if I am not able to work?

Yes. Your eligibility for benefits continues through the end of calendar year 2020 as long as you continue to be employed by FCPS. You will continue to pay the same rate as other active employees, and will be invoiced by the Office of Payroll Management.  

LEAVE REQUEST PROCESS

When do I need to tell my Principal that I am taking E-FMLE or EPSL?

Employees are expected to notify their supervisor as soon as possible, or at least by the first workday missed due​ a COVID related absence. Employees must to complete a form to formalize the request to use E-FMLE or EPSL which is then sent to the Disability and Leaves team in the Office of Benefit Services.

How will I know that my EPSL or E-FMLE request is approved?

The Disability and Leaves team in the Office of Benefit Services (OBS) will notify the employee in writing to confirm approval or denial of any requested leave. Communications will be sent electronically to the both the employee’s FCPS email address, as well as personal email address if one has been provided. It is important to check your email(s) and this is the most expedient way for OBS to communicate with employees. A copy of the approval or denial letter will also be sent via email to the employee’s principal or program manager.

QUESTIONS REGARDING WORKERS COMPENSATION

If I believe that I have contracted coronavirus through a contact while performing my work duties. will this be covered under workers’ compensation?

The Virginia Worker’s Compensation law provides benefits not only when an employee suffers an accidental injury, and in some cases when they contract an occupational disease caused by their employment. While workers’ compensation law provides compensation for “occupational diseases” that arise out of and in the course of employment, Virginia excludes “ordinary diseases of life” (e.g., the common cold or flu). In order to be covered under workers compensation the employee must prove to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission that the illness arose out of the employment as defined by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Code.