The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “FFCRA”) signed into law on March 18, 2020, established the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (the “EPSLA”) and expanded the scope of the Family Medical Leave Act (the “FMLA”).  As a reminder, under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:

  1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  5. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or childcare provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  6. is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

The FFCRA allows up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay to cover employees who need to care for a child because the child’s school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19.  Now that summer camps and schools around the country are starting to go part-time or close altogether, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued guidance on how reason #5 comes into play during the summer months. 

What about Summer Camps?

Field Assistance Bulletin Number 2020-4, issued on June 26, 2020, notes that a “place of care” is a physical location in which care is provided for the employee’s child while the employee works.  This includes daycare, summer camps, and summer enrichment programs.  If the employee requests leave, the employee must provide the employer information in support of the need for leave either orally or in writing, including an explanation of the reason for leave and a statement that the employee is unable to work because of that reason.  If the reason is that the child’s place of care is closed, then the employee must also provide the name of the child, the name of the school or place of care (including summer camp), and a statement that no other suitable person is available to care for the child. 

Criteria for Coverage

An employee is covered if their child was enrolled in the summer camp before it was closed.  The Department of Labor notes that when an employer is trying to decide whether to grant this leave, it must determine whether it was more likely than not that the child would have attended the camp or program had it not closed due to COVID-19.  It must be “more likely than not” and a parent’s “mere interest” in a camp or program is generally not enough.