FFCRA "School Daze" quiz!

Do you make the grade?

How much do you know about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, work, and school? Take our quiz and find out! As always, the answers are provided at the end of each question, so you can cheat all you want, and we'll never know.

If you make it to the end (and, why wouldn't you?), there will be a special gift, selected especially for you.

Ready? Here we go!

No. 1: The public schools in your area have reopened, so all the kids are back to school. Later this month, the schools will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday for parent-teacher conferences. Your employee, Seymour, asks to take paid leave under the FFCRA for those days. What's your first question?

A. Is it mandatory for parents to attend the parent-teacher conferences?

B. Are we sure that Seymour will attend the conferences and not just take the time off to go shopping for the perfect Halloween costume?

C. Does your company have fewer than 500 employees in the United States, its possessions, or territories?

D. What do parent-teacher conferences have to do with coronavirus?

ANSWER: C. If you have 500 or more employees in the United States or its possessions or territories, you don't have to worry about anything else because you are not a "covered employer" and are not required to provide FFCRA leave. In fact, you can skip the rest of this quiz.

"Very funny, Ms. Shea."

No. 2: OK, let's say the employer is under 500 employees and therefore covered by the FFCRA. Is Seymour entitled to FFCRA leave on the two days that his kids' school is closed for parent-teacher conferences?

A. Yes, because FFCRA is available when parents have to be home because their kids' schools are closed.

B. No, because the school is not closing for a COVID-19-related reason.

C. Yes, because Seymour was eligible for this type of leave on his first day of work.

D. Probably not, because the school is not closing for a COVID-19-related reason.

ANSWER: D. Why? You have to finish the quiz to find out! (Or, at least, skip down to No. 5.)

No. 3: Brunhilda works for your company, but she lives just over the state line. In her state, the public schools are on a two-day-on/three-day-off schedule. On Monday and Tuesday, the kids attend school in person. On Wednesday through Friday, they have remote classes. Brunhilda wants to take FFCRA leave on Wednesday through Friday until her leave allotment is exhausted. Your company has made the decision not to allow intermittent FFCRA leave unless required by law. Do you have to let Brunhilda take these three days off per week?

A. Yes.

B. No, because if you let Brunhilda do it, you'd have to let everybody do it.

C. No, because the company has decided not to allow intermittent leave, and three days a week is "intermittent." 

D. No, because Brunhilda probably isn't even helping her kids with their work. She's probably watching TV and drinking all day.

ANSWER: A. If the employer is covered, and the kids are home because the school is closed for reasons related to COVID-19, then Brunhilda is eligible for whatever leave is left in her allotment. Although it is true that the employer can choose not to provide intermittent leave in some situations, the U.S. Department of Labor has said that time off for a partial-week school closing is not "intermittent" leave. So the employer has no right to refuse in these circumstances.

No. 4: Maria lives in the same state as Brunhilda, but her kids go to Catholic school. The Catholic schools have been open on their normal schedule since August 31. Maria asks you for same deal that Brunhilda has, you say no, and she files a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying it is religious discrimination for you to allow Brunhilda, a Lutheran, to have three paid days off per week but not to let Maria, a Catholic, have any paid leave. The EEOC is likely to agree with Maria.



ANSWER: False, of course. Maria isn't being denied FFCRA leave because of her religion but because her kids' schools are open.

No. 5: Durwood lives in the same state as Seymour. Even though the public schools are open in their state, Durwood is keeping his kids at home because he doesn't want to put them at risk of contracting COVID-19 from their classmates. Durwood applies for FFCRA leave so he can home school his kids. Assuming he has leave available, do you have to allow it?

A. Yes, because Durwood is right to be concerned about the health of his kids.

B. No, because it isn't enough under the FFCRA to just be "concerned" about one's kids.

C. It depends.

ANSWER: C. This is a legal quiz, so of course "it depends" is the correct answer! If the kids are healthy and the schools are open, then Durwood would not be entitled to take FFCRA leave just because he is afraid that they might get sick. However, if the kids have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been instructed by a health care provider or public health authority to stay home, then Durwood would be entitled to FFCRA leave.

Home is where Durwood's heart is.

Also, if the kids have non-COVID-related medical conditions that make them more vulnerable in the event of an exposure to COVID-19, the EEOC would strongly encourage you to cut Durwood some slack. It might even be a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

One final thought about Durwood, Stanley, and Brunhilda: If they can do their jobs from home, then they would either be eligible for only partial FFCRA leave or no FFCRA leave at all. 

No. 6: Chloreen is a Human Resources manager at the local hospital, which is a "covered employer" under the FFCRA. Chloreen and her fellow managers rotate HR duty on holidays. It is Chloreen's turn to be the designated HR person during the week of Christmas 2020 (December 20-27). However, Chloreen's kids' school will be closed that week for the holidays. Chloreen's regular child care providers are not available that week. Under what circumstances, if any, would Chlorine be entitled to FFCRA leave for those days?

A. No circumstances, because Chloreen is a "health care provider" under the FFCRA and is not entitled to leave at all.

B. All circumstances, because the USDOL says that an employee is entitled to FFCRA leave -- even if the school is closed for non-COVID-related reasons -- if the employee's child care provider is unavailable. Because Chloreen's child care providers are unavailable, she is entitled to FFCRA leave.

C. No circumstances, because the school is closed for the holidays, not for COVID-19.

D. One circumstance. Chloreen might be entitled to FFCRA leave if her child care providers are unavailable for COVID-related reasons. Otherwise, Chloreen is out of luck.

ANSWER: D. A would have been correct about a month ago, but not anymore. The original FFCRA regulations had a very broad exception to eligibility for "health care providers," which meant virtually any employee of a health care employer. But the regulations were revised in September. The "health care provider" exception no longer applies to employees who aren't closely connected with patient care. HR managers and other administrators are not "health care providers" under the new standard, even if they work for a hospital. Meaning that they are entitled to FFCRA leave if they otherwise qualify.

B and C are both overbroad, in opposite directions.

As Goldilocks might have said, "D is just right." Even if the school is closed for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, Chloreen will be eligible for FFCRA leave only if her child care providers are unavailable because of COVID-19.

Until New Year's morning.

Unless Congress extends the FFCRA into next year.


4-6 correct: A+! Go to the head of the class, ya big nerd!

2-3 correct: You've earned a Gentleperson's C. Perhaps you should consider a career in politics.

0-1 correct: Eek! You get a rap on the knuckles with a ruler and 12 weeks of unpaid detention.

Just kidding! You all did great. And here is that special gift I promised you:


Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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