Virus Paid Leave, Jobless Aid for Parents Has Limits, DOL Says

Aug. 27, 2020, 11:07 PM

Workers are ineligible for virus-related paid family leave and jobless benefits if they decide to educate their children from home when the school gives them the choice of either online or in-person learning, the Labor Department said.

The department clarified this issue Thursday in a pair of guidance documents that applied the recently enacted federal paid leave and expanded unemployment insurance programs to three common scenarios facing working parents across the U.S. as schools reopen in the coming days.

Either partially paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance under the CARES Act may be available for workers who can’t perform their jobs at home when their child’s school is closed due to Covid-19, two DOL agencies said. Workers can’t receive both entitlements at once, however.

But the PUA benefits and the up to 10 weeks of family leave are reserved for situations in which the school is either conducting all of its classes via distance learning or is taking a hybrid approach of requiring students to alternate between attending class in person and virtually, the DOL said.

When the parent is given the option and chooses to school their children online, out of concern for contracting Covid-19 at school, for example, the school isn’t considered closed and the worker can’t receive either type of benefit, the department said.

The paid leave guidance came as part of the Wage and Hour Division’s rolling release of questions and answers, while the jobless aid update was included in an Employment and Training Administration program letter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Penn in Washington at bpenn@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com; Karl Hardy at khardy@bloomberglaw.com

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