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FFCRA and COVID-19 Leave Information

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers, which includes the University of Kansas, to provide employees with emergency paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1 through December 31, 2020.

 

What is Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL)? And who is eligible? ( updated 05/27/20)
Under FFCRA, eligible employees may receive up to two weeks (not to exceed 80 hours for full-time employment) of EPSL for self-care or the need to care for others due to the reasons stated below. The EPSL requires an employer to compensate 100% of the employee’s regular rate of pay for the following reasons:
  • Employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order.
  • Employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine.
  • Employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis

The EPSL pays at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work or telework because of the following reasons. However, KU is currently supplementing the difference of any use of EPSL for the reasons below to reduce any negative impact to the employee through June 27.

  • Employee is caring for an individual subject to quarantine/isolation order or has been advised to follow quarantine directives.
  • Employee is caring for the employee’s son or daughter (not applied to legal guardianship) due to a school or day care closure due to COVID-19.
  • Employee is experiencing any other condition substantially similar to COVID-19 as defined by federal guidance or a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.

Employees must enter the COVID-19 absence in the HR/Pay system. The University reserves the right to review and possibly discontinue the supplement without advance notice prior to June 27, or before the December 31, 2020, expiration of the Act.


What is the Emergency Family Medical Leave Act (EFMLA)? And who is eligible? (update 5/27/20)
Under FFCRA, an expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act has been granted for qualifying individuals who are unable to work or telework due to a bona fide need for leave, up to an additional 10 weeks, to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19. FMLA and EFMLA combined cannot exceed 12 weeks total. The first two weeks of EFMLA are unpaid. However, an individual qualifying for EFMLA may use EPSL for the first two weeks of leave or their own accrued KU leave.

The FFCRA does not require employers to provide full compensation for qualifying employees approved for EFMLA through the duration of the Act (December 31, 2020). However, KU is currently supplementing the difference as to not adversely impact the employee. Employees approved for EFMLA are required to enter the absence in the HR/Pay system as directed and have supervisor approval in order to be paid. The University reserves the right to review and possibly discontinue the supplement without advance notice prior to the December 31, 2020 expiration of the Act.


How long will EPSL and/or EFMLA be available for qualifying employees to use?
Both programs expire under federal statute on December 31, 2020, at which time both the policy and related eligibility requirements will terminate.

How are employee work hours determined for purposes of the ESPL or EFMLA?
Employees designated with a normal 40 hour per week work schedule are designated as full-time under the federal statutes. Any employee working less than 40 hours per week is considered part-time for EPSL and/or EFMLA purposes. Part-time employees requesting leave under these programs will be entitled to leave amounts based upon the average number of normally scheduled work hours in a two-week period. If the normal hours scheduled are unknown, or if the part-time employee’s schedule varies, a six-month average may be used to calculate the average daily hours. If the employee has not been employed for a six-month period, the number of hours agreed upon between the employer and employee at the time of hire will be used, or an average of number of hours will be calculated based upon what the employee was scheduled to work over the term.

How much will I be paid while taking EPSL or EFMLA? (updated 5/27/20)
It depends on your normal schedule, the appointment you hold, as well as why you are taking leave.

Beginning April 1, 2020 faculty, staff and student employees holding active (paid) appointments may apply for EPSL and/or EFMLA by completing the COVID-19 Leave Request Form and providing supporting documentation. All employees who had been reporting leave as COVID-19 will be required to complete this form beginning April 19, 2020.

Employees who are unable to work or telework because of the following reaons are entitled to receive their daily rate of regular pay.

  • They subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • They have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or
  • They are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking medical diagnosis; .

Employees who are unable to work or telework because of the following reasons will receive their daily rate of regular pay as the University is supplementing the federally define threshold at this time. The University reserves the right to review and possibly discontinue the supplement without advance notice before the December 31, 2020, expiration of the Act.

  • They are caring for an individual who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or an individual who has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  • They are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons; or 
  • They are experiencing any other substantially similar condition that may arise, as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

In order to receive compensation, the absence must be entered and approved in the HR/Pay system for each appropriate pay period.


May I take 80 hours of paid sick leave for my self-quarantine and then another amount of paid sick leave for another reason provided under the EPSL?
No. You may take up to two weeks—or 10 workdays—(80 hours for a full-time employee, or for a part-time employee, the number of hours equal to the average number of hours that the employee works over a typical two-week period) of EPSL for any combination of qualifying reasons. However, the total number of hours for which you receive paid sick leave under EPSL is capped at 80 hours. If the illness extends beyond the two weeks covered by the EPSL, employees may use available accrued leave to cover additional time off as approved by their supervisor.

If I am home with my child because the school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, do I qualify for EPSL, EFMLA, or both—and how do they interact? (updated 5/27/20)

You may be eligible for both types of leave, but only for a total of 12 weeks of paid leave under EPSL and EFMLA. Both leave programs are available to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons if you are eligible and it is approved by Human Resources Management (HRM). The EPSL provides for an initial two weeks of paid leave. This period will cover the first 10 workdays (up to 80 hours, for full-time employees) of EFMLA, which are otherwise unpaid unless you elect to use existing KU accrued leave (i.e., vacation, sick, holiday, discretionary, compensatory). The remaining 10 weeks of EFMLA will be paid leave at your daily rate of regular pay at this time as the University is supplementing the federally defined thresholds. The University reserves the right to review and possibly discontinue the supplement without advance notice before the December 31, 2020, expiration of the Act.


Can KU deny me EPSL if they already provided paid administrative leave (COVID-19)?
No, not if you meet the qualifying criteria. The EPSL imposes a new leave requirement on employers that is effective April 1, 2020.

I currently receive paid administrative leave due to COVID-19, but do not meet the criteria for the EPSL or EFMLA. Will I continue to receive compensation if I am unable to work? (updated 4/27/20)
Employees who remain in an active employment status and who are not eligible for the EPSL or EFMLA will continue to receive compensation either through the end of their appointment term (May 15, 2020 for academic year appointments) or through June 27, 2020 with the exception of UPS temporary appointments. UPS Temporary employees will only receive paid leave if eligible for EPSL and/or EFMLA. As of 4/19/20 those employee will need to submit an Absence Request. See humanresources.ku.edu/document/coronavirus-covid-19-time-and-absence-reporting-document for instructions.

Is all leave under the FMLA now paid leave?
No. The only type of family and medical leave that is paid leave is under the EFMLA when such leave exceeds 10 workdays. Eligibility for EFMLA is only available when the employee must care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons. University employees continue to have the option to utilize available accrued leave balances for qualifying absences.

Are the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FMLA requirements retroactive?
No. Program eligibility begins on April 1, 2020 according to the FFCRA.

How do I know whether I have “been employed for at least 30 calendar days” for purposes of EFMLA?
You are considered to have been employed for at least 30 calendar days if you were on the KU payroll for the 30 calendar days immediately prior to the day your leave would begin. For example, if you want to take leave under the EPSL or EFMLA on April 1, 2020, you would need to have been on KU’s payroll as of March 2, 2020.

If you have been working in a temporary capacity and were subsequently hired on a full-time basis, the days in which you previously worked as a temporary employee count toward this 30-day eligibility period. Please contact hrdept@ku.edu if you have questions related to eligibility.


What documents do I need to give my employer to get paid EPSL or EFMLA?
You must complete the University’s FFCRA and COVID-19 Leave Request Form attaching documentation in support of your leave request.

What documentation should I provide if the reason I am requesting leave is due to a school or day care being closed or the child care provider is unavailable due to a COVID-19 related reason?
Documentation may include a notice of closure or unavailability from your child’s school, place of care, or child care provider; or a notice posted on a government, school, or day care website, published in a newspaper, or emailed to you from an employee or official of the school, place of care, or child care provider.

Note that all existing certification requirements under the FMLA remain in effect if you apply for FMLA for an alternate, qualifying reason. For example, if you are taking leave beyond the two weeks of EPSL because your medical condition for COVID-19-related reasons rises to the level of a serious health condition, you must continue to provide medical certifications under the FMLA if requested.


When am I able to telework under the FFCRA?
You may telework when your supervisor allows you to perform work while you are at home or at a location other than your normal workplace. Telework is work for which normal wages must be paid and is not considered leave under the FFCRA.

What does it mean to be unable to work, including telework, for COVID-19 related reasons?
You are unable to work if your unit has work for you to complete and one of the COVID-19 qualifying reasons set forth in the FFCRA prevents you from being able to perform that work at your normal worksite or by means of telework. (See What is Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL)? And who is eligible? above for the qualifying reasons.)

If you and your supervisor agree that you will work your normal number of hours, but outside of your normally scheduled hours (for instance early in the morning or late at night), then you are able to work and leave is not necessary unless a COVID-19 qualifying reason prevents you from working that schedule.


If I am or become unable to telework, am I entitled to EPSL and/or EFMLA?
If you have been designated as a teleworking employee due to COVID-19 and you are unable to perform those tasks or work the required hours because of one of the qualifying reasons (see Question 2) for EPSL on or after April 1, 2020, then you are entitled to utilize EPSL.

Similarly, if you are unable to perform those teleworking tasks or work the required teleworking hours because you need to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, then you are entitled to apply for EFMLA. To the extent you are able to telework while caring for your child, EPSL and EFMLA are not available.


May I take my EPSL or EFMLA intermittently while teleworking?
EFMLA and EPSL may be taken on an intermittent basis if taken as sick leave to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons if a management plan and work schedule had been defined and approved by your supervisor and HRM.

May I take EPSL intermittently while working at my usual worksite (as opposed to teleworking)?
It depends on the reason for which you need sick leave. Unless you are teleworking, paid sick leave for qualifying reasons related to COVID-19 must be taken in full-day increments. It cannot be taken intermittently if the leave is being taken because:
  • You are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • You have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  • You are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis; You are caring for an individual who either is subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or
  • You are experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Unless you are teleworking, once you begin taking EPSL for one or more of these qualifying reasons, you must continue to take EPSL each day until you either: 1) use the full amount of paid EPSL or 2) no longer have a qualifying reason for taking EPSL. This limit is imposed because if you are sick or possibly sick with COVID-19, or caring for an individual who is sick or possibly sick with COVID-19, the intent of the EPSL is to provide paid sick leave as necessary to keep you from spreading the virus to others.

If you no longer have a qualifying reason for taking EPSL before you exhaust your EPSL allotment, you may take any remaining EPSL at a later time, until December 31, 2020, if another qualifying reason occurs.

EPSL may be taken intermittently if you are caring for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons. For example, if your child is at home because his or her school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, you may take paid EPSL on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to care for your child, but work at your normal worksite, or telework, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


May I collect unemployment insurance benefits for time during which I receive pay for EPSL and/or EFMLA?
No. If EPSL or EFMLA are provided, you are not eligible for unemployment insurance. However, the Kansas Department of Labor is responsible for administering Kansas unemployment laws. Employees should contact that agency for specific questions about eligibility. Contact information for the Kansas Department of Labor information can be found on the Kansas Dept. of Labor website.

If I elect to take EPSL or EFMLA, must KU continue my health coverage? If I remain on leave beyond the maximum period of EFMLA, do I have a right to keep my health coverage?
If you are enrolled in the State Employee Health Plan (SEHP), you are entitled to continue health coverage during your EFMLA on the same terms as if you continued to work. If you do not return to work at the end of your EFMLA, check with KU HRM to determine eligibility to continue your SEHP coverage.

SEHP will continue for employees using the EPSL.


As an employee, may I use my existing leave balances to supplement compensation covered under the FFCRA? (updated 4/27/20)
Beginning June 28, 2020, only employees qualifying for EPSL and/or EFMLA will be covered for full pay by the University of Kansas.

How is “child” defined under FFCRA?
Under the FFCRA, a “child" means a biological, adopted or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis, who is either under 18 years of age or 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability. Application for EFMLA for children over 14 years of age will require additional justification based upon IRS guidelines.

Do I have a right to return to work after taking EPSL or EFMLA?
In most instances, you are entitled to be restored to the same or an equivalent position upon return. KU is prohibited from firing, disciplining, or otherwise discriminating against you because you take EPSL and/or EFMLA or due to your filing of any type of complaint or proceeding relating to these Acts, or have or intend to testify in any such proceeding.

However, you are not protected from employment actions, such as layoffs, furloughs or reductions in force due to legitimate business reasons that would have affected you regardless of whether you took leave.

An employer may also refuse to return you to work in your same position if you are a highly compensated “key” employee as defined under the FMLA.


Do I qualify for leave for a COVID-19 related reason even if I have already used some or all of my leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
If you have received a total of 12 weeks of FMLA during the defined period as specified by the university, you are not eligible for additional leave under the EFMLA. However, you may be eligible to EPSL.

May I take leave under the FMLA over the next 12 months if I used some or all of my EFMLA?
It depends. You may take a total of 12 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period under the FMLA, including the EFMLA. If you take some, but not all 12 workweeks of EFMLA by December 31, 2020, you may take the remaining portion of FMLA leave for a serious medical condition, as long as the total time taken does not exceed 12 work weeks in the 12-month period. Please note that EFMLA is available only until December 31, 2020; after that, you may only take FMLA leave.

If I take paid sick leave under the EPSL, does that count against other types of paid sick leave to which I am entitled based upon the position I hold?
No. Paid sick leave under the EPSL is in addition to other leave provided.

May I use EPSL and EFMLA together for any COVID-19 related reasons?
No. The EFMLA applies only when you are on leave to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons and are unable to work or telework. However, you can use EPSL for specified reasons.

The EFMLA does not distinguish between full- and part-time employees, but the number of hours an employee normally works each week will affect the amount of pay the employee is eligible to receive.


I’ve elected to take EPSL and I am currently in a waiting period for SEHP health coverage. If I am absent from work on EPSL during the waiting period, will my health coverage still take effect after I complete the waiting period on the same day that the coverage would otherwise take effect?
Yes. The effective date of your SEHP eligibility will not be impacted if you are using EPSL. If you have questions, please contact the Benefits Office at benefits@ku.edu.

I am a faculty member or an employee that is on a less than 12 month appointment, and my summer class, study abroad program, or summer appointment activities were cancelled due to enrollment problems or funding. May I take EPSL, EFMLA, or accrued sick leave to cover the summer period I was expecting to be compensated for?
No, EPSL and EFMLA leave is provided for leave when employees are unable to work or telework for the qualifying criteria. Elimination of classes or other work due to enrollment drops or funding losses is not a qualifying criteria for leave. Accrued sick leave can only be taken for a qualifying reason as outlined in the University’s sick leave policy when in an active, paid status and has been approved by your supervisor.

I have received the maximum paid leave benefits under the FFCRA (EPSL and/or EFMLA. Will I continue to receive full compensation if I am only able to work some of my scheduled hours? Will I continue to receive full compensation if I am unable to work any of my scheduled hours? (Added 5/27/20)
After the FFCRA paid leave has been exhausted, all employees in regular positions may continue to receive full pay through June 27, regardless of the number of scheduled work hours they work. Employees on less than 12-month appointments (staff or academic year faculty) are not eligible for paid leave during the summer or while the appointment is not active (paid). Student employees will be covered through May 16. Eligibility for this KU non-federal leave is defined by the University and is not applicable to all employees and is not subject to requirements of the FFCRA. Availability of KU non-federal leave is under the Chancellor’s direction and can be discontinued without advance notice.

Will I need to use my existing leave balances to supplement compensation received under the FFCRA? (Added 5/27/20)
Although the FFCRA has compensation threshold limits, KU is currently supplementing the difference not covered by the federal regulations to reduce any negative impact to employees. Therefore, employees do not currently need to use existing leave balances. The University reserves the right to review and possibly discontinue the supplement without advance notice prior to the December 31, 2020, expiration of the Act.

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