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Parents without childcare are entitled to paid leave

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Parents who cannot afford childcare are entitled to paid leave when their children are taking online classes.

Following a letter from Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan (Ind-MP) to the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor last Aug. 19, the USDOL issued an FFCRA guidance which states that parents who are eligible can take paid leave under the FFCRA on days when a child is not permitted to attend school in person and must take part in remote learning, as long as you need the leave to actually care for your child during that time and only if there is no other suitable person available.

The division stated that the school is effectively “closed” to one’s child on days that he or she cannot attend in person. “You may take paid leave under the FFCRA on each of your child’s remote-learning days,” said WHD.

Sablan said the same thing during the awarding of certificates to Democratic Party candidates last week, when he said that he, along with Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC 12th District), wrote to the U.S Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division regarding clarification on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. “It is the law. It gives parents who have no access to childcare paid leave, depending on the size of the company,” he said.

Sablan said he needed clarification because he is unsure if it is being implemented in the Northern Mariana Islands. “It’s law. I don’t know if it’s being implemented here. I am implementing it in my congressional office but I don’t know if others are implementing that,” he said.

Sablan said it isn’t only necessary but it is a law that a person who can’t come to work because they have no childcare, or is taking care of an individual who is sick from COVID-19 will get paid leave for a period of up to 12 months.

“I don’t know if people know, and unless the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, which has an office here, start addressing this law either through public education or something, people won’t know. This is law and I guess I just thought we should educate people,” he said.

Sablan said this law is separate from the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act which ensures workers have access to extended, job-protected leave to care for themselves and their families amid the COVID-19 epidemic. The FFCRA is a similar law.

However, in cases where a parent has an option between having their child attend in person or participate in a remote learning program, they are deemed not eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA because the child’s school is not “closed” due to COVID-19; it is open for your child to attend.

“FFCRA leave is not available to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance. If your child is home not because his or her school is closed, but because you have chosen for the child to remain home, you are not entitled to FFCRA paid leave. However, if, because of COVID-19, your child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine, you may be eligible to take paid leave to care for him or her,” said WHD.

JUSTINE NAUTA and KIMBERLY A. BAUTISTA
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