Leave entitlements due to COVID-19

A message from Lisa Failla, Assistant Superintendent for Business:

As you may be aware, recent state and federal legislation have provided additional leave entitlements for employees for certain circumstances related to COVID-19. These new laws are summarized below and in the attached employee notices.

Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA”)

There are two different options available to employees under the FFCRA. One is the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLA”) and the other is Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”). In all cases, leave is only available where the employee is unable to work or telework.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLA) provides leave for employees in the event of the following, where no other suitable provider is available:

  1. closure of the child’s school for reasons related to COVID-19;
  2. closure of the child’s place of care for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  3. the child’s care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

EFMLA provides up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave for the above purposes for the period April 1 – December 31, 2020. The first 2 weeks are UNPAID leave, unless the employee requests to use accrued leave time as per their contract or paid sick leave under the EPSLA. PLEASE NOTE: If the CBA specifically states that sick leave can only be used for personal illness or illness in the family, sick leave would not be allowed for this purpose.

After the first 2 weeks, employees are eligible to be paid at 2/3rds their regular rate of pay up to a maximum of $200 per day for up to 10 weeks. There is NO paid leave provision where a child’s regular place of care is open and available, and the employee chooses not to send their child. If the employee chooses to use the provision of the EPSLA to receive pay during the first two weeks, it runs concurrently with EFMLA and thus reduces the availability of FFCRA leave for any other purpose. EFMLA leave is subject to and will reduce an employee’s available leave for other reasons under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) provides up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid leave for one of the following reasons:

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who: (a) is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; or (b) has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19
  5. The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care has been closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Leave for reasons #1- #3 is paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay up to a maximum of $511 per day. Leave for reasons #4- #6 is paid at 2/3rds the employee’s regular rate of pay up to a maximum of $200 per day. The 80 hours of paid leave is for the period April 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020 and covers all 6 reasons; there is no provision in the law for multiple instances of paid EPSLA.

New York State Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19 (NYS COVID Leave)

NYS COVID Leave provides paid leave at the employee’s full rate of pay for a maximum of 14 calendar days when an employee is unable to work or telework because he or she is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation. NYS COVID Leave is available only to the extent that it provides greater benefits than EPSLA Leave for an order or quarantine or isolation (e.g., the employee’s rate of pay exceeds the EPSLA $511 per day cap or the employee has exhausted EPSLA leave).

NYS COVID Leave is not available to an employee who voluntarily travels to a state covered by New York’s travel advisory or to a country with a level two (2) or three (3) health notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Requesting Leave

Employees who foresee the need for EFMLA or EPSLA Leave should complete the appropriate request form as soon as practicable. Employees who must take EFMLA or EPSLA leave for reasons that are not foreseeable should complete the appropriate request form after the first day on which leave is taken. FFCRA Leave request forms are on the District’s website (see right sidebar) and are available by contacting Jean Jaffee or Lisa Failla.

Employees who need to take NYS COVID Leave should inform their supervisors as soon as the need for leave is known and should also complete the EPSLA request form.

Other Circumstances

Employees who are ill or caring for a covered family member who is ill with COVID-19 may additionally or instead qualify for regular Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) leave.
FMLA leave may be available where COVID-19 qualifies as a “serious health condition” according to the following:

  • COVID-19 symptoms requiring an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility, or
  • COVID-19 symptoms that incapacitate the employee (e.g., unable to work or attend school) for more than three consecutive days and require ongoing medical treatment (either multiple appointments with a health care provider, or a single appointment and follow-up care such as prescription medication).

Employees interested in taking FMLA leave should follow existing FMLA leave request procedures.

As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the New York State Human Rights Law (HRL), it is policy of the District to make reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified employee with a disability. If you are an individual with a disability as defined by the HRL or ADA, you may be entitled to an accommodation to enable you to perform the essential duties of your position.

Employees with questions about the above leave or those who have a disability and believe they require reasonable accommodations should be directed to my office and either myself or Jean Jaffee will explain the process and entitlements.

If any Administrator, Director or Supervisor has any questions, please reach out to one of us.

COVID -19 Quarantine Q&A

Q. If I am subject to a Federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, how will I know?

A. Most quarantine orders will come from the State or local Department of Health. You should ask yourself the following questions.

1. Was I contacted by a DOH contact tracer and told I was exposed to COVID-19 and should quarantine?

2. Was I advised by a health care professional to self-quarantine related to COVID-19?

3. Am I experiencing symptoms AND I am seeking a medical diagnosis?

If you can answer yes to any of the above 3 questions and DPH is aware, you are subject to quarantine related to COVID-19 and can receive benefits through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, if you haven’t already exhausted that benefit. Benefits under FFCRA are available only through December 31, 2020.

Q. What are my next steps if I am subject to quarantine?

A. You should do the following:

1. Contact your direct supervisor, ie: building principal or director of your department and Central Office

2. Complete the EPSLA (Expanded Paid Sick Leave Act) paperwork available on the website or from the Business Office. (Jean Jaffee or Lisa Failla) 3. DPH will send you an email regarding your quarantine, forward that email to lfailla@k12mcsd.net or jjaffee@k12mcsd.net

Q. What are my next steps if I am experiencing symptoms AND are seeking a medical diagnosis?

A. You should do the following:

1. Contact your direct supervisor, ie: building principal or director of your department and Central Office

2. Complete the EPSLA (Expanded Paid Sick Leave Act) paperwork available on the website or from the Business Office. (Jean Jaffee or Lisa Failla)

3. Get a COVID-19 test. You must isolate until results are received.

a. Positive test result – You must stay in isolation at home until the local Department of Health releases you. You must provide proof in order to return to work. DPH will send you and email, forward that email to lfailla@k12mcsd.net or jjaffee@k12mcsd.net .

b. Negative test result – You must provide proof of the negative test result AND a doctor’s note with a verifiable alternative diagnosis (ie: positive for strep) in order to return to work. You cannot return to work unless you are fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication. If you cannot obtain a doctor’s note, you must stay out of work for 10 days. In this case, you are not ill nor are you subject to quarantine, you can only use personal time or vacation time (if applicable) in order to be paid for this time out of work.

Q. I am caring for an individual subject to a quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine, what do I do?

A. You should do the following:

1. Contact your direct supervisor, ie: building principal or director of your department and Central Office

2. Complete the EPSLA (Expanded Paid Sick Leave Act) paperwork available on the website or from the Business Office. (Jean Jaffee or Lisa Failla)

3. You cannot return to work until the health care provider or DPH releases you or the person you are caring for. DPH will send you and email, forward it to lfailla@k12mcsd.net or jjaffee@k12mcsd.net. EPSLA can cover your absence for up to 14 days through December 31, 2020. Generally, accrued sick leave is not available for this purpose. Contact Jean Jaffee for specific questions.

Q. I am caring for a child whose school or place of care (daycare) is closed due to COVID-19, what do I do?

A. You should do the following:

1. Contact your direct supervisor, ie: building principal or director of your department and Central Office

2. Complete the EFMLA (Expanded Family Medical Leave Act) paperwork AND the EPSLA (Expanded Paid Sick Leave Act) paperwork, if applicable, available on the website or from the Business Office. (Jean Jaffee or Lisa Failla)

a. EFMLA leave is ONLY available when childcare is not. Therefore, if your school offered hybrid instruction and you chose to keep your child home, EFMLA leave would only be available for the number of days children do not attend. This leave is available through December 31, 2020.

Q. I travelled to a state on the NYS Advisory list or travelled internationally, what do I do.

A. You should do the following:

1. Contact your direct supervisor, ie: building principal or director of your department and Central Office

2. Complete the EPSLA (Expanded Paid Sick Leave Act) paperwork, if applicable, available on the website or from the Business Office. (Jean Jaffee or Lisa Failla)

a. You MUST quarantine for 14 days upon your return to New York State.

b. A negative COVID-19 test does not change the 14 day quarantine requirement

3. If you are voluntarily travelling to one of these restricted areas, you must complete a personnel leave report and have it approved by your supervisor prior to travelling. You must inform the supervisor of the date you will be returning to NY. The 14 day quarantine requirement will begin on that day. If you have used any or all of the available EPSLA days, the remaining available may not sufficiently cover your quarantine. Before you travel, you should make sure you have sufficient, vacation, personal and EPSLA leave days to cover the entire quarantine period.

Q. I know that some people in my building are under a quarantine order, and I am not comfortable coming in to work. I have not been notified by the Department of Health to self-quarantine, but I don’t want to expose myself. What do I do?

A. You should do the following:

1. Report to work. You cannot use sick time if you are not ill. You may request personal or vacation time. Unpaid leave is not an option.