This past Friday, the DOL issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (No. 2020-4) that clarifies circumstances under which an employee may take leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) due to closure of a summer camp or other program.
As a refresher, the FFCRA requires most employers with fewer than 500 employees to offer paid leave for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes situations where an employee is unable to work or telework due to a need to care for their child whose “place of care” is closed for pandemic-related reasons.
“Summer camps” and “summer enrichment programs” are specifically included under the definition of “place of care” and, in accordance with recent guidance (FAQ #93), qualify as a place of a care if the child was “enrolled” in the camp or program before closure was announced.
Simple enough on its face but consider the reality that not all parents are sufficiently confident in their summer plans to fork over hefty early bird enrollment fees before the snow has cleared. Fortunately for them, the DOL has adopted a broad interpretation of “enrollment,” explaining that:
Current enrollment or recent prior attendance are certainly sufficient to indicate that a camp or program would have been a child’s place of care had it not closed in response to COVID-19. But neither are necessary. A child who, for example, only recently met the age requirement for a summer camp could not have attended the camp in prior years. The same would be true of a child who recently moved from an area not serviced by the summer camp that the child planned to attend this summer or of a child whose parents had not yet made summer arrangements at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and delayed doing so due to uncertainty surrounding summer camps’ and programs’ operations. In such circumstances, there may nonetheless be indicators that a particular camp or program would have been the child’s place of care this summer, for example, by being accepted to a waitlist pending the reopening of the camp or program or the reopening of its registration process.
The takeaway for businesses? By adopting liberal review processes for requests for FFCRA leave due to summer camp and other program closures, employers can reduce risk of liability under the new law.
To learn more, call our attorneys at (410) 727-4300.