Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Paid Leave

Overview of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into federal law on March 18, 2020, and is effective from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Included in the law, were two new paid leave provisions: Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL), and Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFML), that will allow the university to provide additional paid time off to those affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Eligibility

Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL)

All UT employees, including non-benefits eligible and student employees, are eligible for up to two weeks (80 hours for full-time; prorated for part-time) of paid sick leave if they are unable to work their scheduled weekly hours either on campus or remotely because they:

  1. are subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. are caring for an individual subject to a quarantine or isolation order as described in (1), or has been advised to self-isolate as described in (2);
  5. are caring for their child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
  6. are experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Employees will receive 100% pay for all time taken under the EPSL, regardless of the qualifying reason. The FFCRA allows employers to exclude healthcare workers and first responders from both of the new leave provisions. UT Austin is not implementing such restrictions at present, but this decision is subject to change based on the evolving nature of the COVID-19 response.

Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFML)

Employees, including non-benefits eligible and student employees, who have been employed for at least 30 days, may be eligible for up to 12 weeks (480 hours for full-time; prorated for part-time) of leave to care for their child whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons.

The first two weeks of EFML are unpaid, and may be used concurrently with EPSL or paid time off accruals. The remaining 10 weeks of EFML are paid at 2/3 pay. Employees may not use their available paid time off accruals to supplement the other 1/3 of their pay while taking time off under the EFML. They may, however, choose to use their available paid time off accruals instead of EFML to receive 100% pay.

EFML is an expansion of the current Family and Medical Leave act (FMLA), so prior usage of FMLA leave may impact eligibility for EFML. In addition, use of EFML now may impact future eligibility for FMLA.

Usage and Timekeeping

Intermittent Use

Employees who are working remotely, and who are unable to work their normal scheduled weekly hours due to a qualifying reason, may take either leave intermittently. If the need for leave is foreseeable, then employees are strongly encouraged to work with their departments to schedule that leave if at all possible. If the need for leave is not foreseeable, then employees are required to follow their department’s normal call in procedures.

Employees whose duties require them to work on campus, and who are unable to work their normal scheduled weekly hours either on campus or remotely, may not take either leave intermittently unless they are doing so to care for their child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons. For additional explanation of this restriction, please refer to the FAQs below.

Additional Usage and Timekeeping Processes

Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) will be added to all employees paid time off balances as of 4/1/2020. Employees may use this time by selecting the appropriate time off code on their timesheets. No application is necessary.

Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFML) must be awarded by Human Resources – Benefits and Leave Management. To apply for EFML please complete the Request for Expanded Family and Medical Leave online. Once awarded EFML, employees may use this time by selecting the appropriate time off code on their timesheets.

The usage scenarios below provide guidance on how to use Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFML) for various absences related to COVID-19. For specific instructions about how to complete your timesheet, please refer to the Enter EPSL and EFML for FFCRA - Workday Instructional Guide​. For questions additional questions about your particular time off needs, please contact your department’s human resources contact or timekeeper.

FFCRA Usage Scenarios for Employees

I am a UT Employee who is unable to work due to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19

What do I do about my time?
  • Ask your supervisor about flexible work arrangements that will allow you to work remotely.
  • If you are unable able to work remotely, or unable to work all of your scheduled weekly hours remotely, then you may take Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to account for the hours you are unable to work.
  • If you exhaust your ten days of EPSL, then you should use your paid time off accruals (vacation, compensatory time, or floating holiday) as appropriate.
Which time code do I use?
  • Use EPSL (Care for Self) for Emergency Paid Sick Time
  • Use regular time codes for other paid time off

I am a UT Employee who is unable to work because I have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19

What do I do about my time?
  • Ask your supervisor about flexible work arrangements that will allow you to work remotely.
  • If you are unable able to work remotely, or unable to work all of your scheduled weekly hours remotely, then you may take Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to account for the hours you are unable to work.
  • If you exhaust your ten days of EPSL, then you should use your paid time off accruals (vacation, compensatory time, or floating holiday) as appropriate.
Which time code do I use?
  • Use EPSL (Care for Self) for Emergency Paid Sick Time
  • Use regular time codes for other paid time off

I am a UT Employee who is unable to work because I am experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and I am seeking a medical diagnosis

What do I do about my time?
  • If you feel well enough to work remotely, then you may ask your supervisor about flexible work arrangements that will allow you to do so.
  • If you are unable able to work remotely, or unable to work all of your scheduled weekly hours remotely, then you may take Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to account for the hours you are unable to work.
  • If you exhaust your ten days of EPSL, then you should use your available paid time off accruals (sick, vacation, compensatory time, or floating holiday) as appropriate.
Which time code do I use?
  • Use EPSL (Care for Self) for Emergency Paid Sick Time
  • Use regular time codes for other paid time off

I am a UT Employee who is unable to work because I am caring for someone who is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order, or has been advised to self quarantine by a healthcare provider

What do I do about my time?
  • Ask your supervisor about flexible working arrangements that will allow you to work remotely.
  • If you are unable able to work remotely, or unable to work all of your scheduled weekly hours remotely, then you may take Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to account for the hours you are unable to work.
  • If you exhaust your ten days of EPSL, then you should use your available paid time off accruals (sick, vacation, compensatory time, or floating holiday) as appropriate.
Which time code do I use?
  • Use EPSL (Care for Other) for Emergency Paid Sick Time
  • Use regular time codes for other paid time off

I am a UT Employee who is unable to work because I am caring for my child whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons

What do I do about my time?
  • Ask your supervisor about flexible work arrangements that will allow you to work on site or remotely.
  • If you are unable able to work, or unable to work all of your scheduled weekly hours, then you may take Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to account for the hours you are unable to work.
  • If your leave is expected to continue for more than two weeks, you may also apply for Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFML).
  • The first two weeks of EFML are unpaid, but may run concurrently with EPSL so that you continue to receive 100% of your regular pay.
  • If you have exhausted your 10 days of EPSL, then you should use your available paid time off accruals (vacation, compensatory time, or floating holiday) to remain in a paid status during the first two weeks.
  • After the first two weeks, all remaining time taken under the EFML (up to an additional 10 weeks) will be paid at 2/3 your regular pay.
  • You may also choose to use your available paid time off accruals (vacation, compensatory time, or floating holiday) instead of EFML, so that you will continue to receive 100% of your regular pay.
Which time code do I use?
  • Use EPSL (Care for Other) for Emergency Paid Sick Time
  • Use EFML (Unpaid) for first two weeks of Expanded Family and Medical Leave
  • Use EFML (Paid) for additional ten weeks of Expanded Family and Medical Leave
  • Use regular time codes for other paid time off

FFCRA Frequently Asked Questions

Are the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave provisions retroactive?

Yes, leave under both plans will be retroactively available for use between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

Which employees are eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave?

All employees, including non-benefits eligible and student employees are eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave if they are unable to work either on campus or remotely because they:

  1. are subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. are caring for an individual subject to a quarantine or isolation order as described in (1), or has been advised to self-isolate as described in (2);
  5. are unable to work their scheduled weekly hours either on campus or remotely because they need to care for their child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
  6. are experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Employees, including non-benefits eligible and student employees, who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days, may be eligible for Expanded Family and Medical Leave if they are unable to work either on campus or remotely because they need to care for their child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons.  The FFCRA allows employers to exclude healthcare workers and first responders from both of the new leave provisions. UT Austin is not implementing such restrictions at present, but this decision is subject to change based on the evolving nature of the COVID-19 response.

Work-Study student employees actively engaged in department work will become eligible for these paid leave options after they have received the full benefit of their Work-Study financial aid award for the 2020 Spring Semester. More information specific to Work-Study student employees can be addressed by the the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid’s Work Study FAQ.

May I take Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded Family and Medical Leave intermittently if I am working remotely?

Yes, if you are unable to work your normal scheduled weekly hours due to a qualifying reason, then you may take either leave intermittently. If the need for leave is foreseeable, then you are strongly encouraged to work with your department to schedule that leave if at all possible. If your need for leave is not foreseeable, then you are required to follow your department’s normal call in procedures.

May I take Emergency Paid Sick Leave intermittently if I am working on university property (as opposed to working remotely)?

It depends on why you are taking Emergency Paid Sick Leave and whether your department has work for you to do remotely. Unless you are able to work remotely, Emergency 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 able to work remotely, once you begin taking paid sick leave for one or more of these qualifying reasons, you must continue to take paid sick leave each day until you either: (1) use the full amount of paid sick leave; or (2) no longer have a qualifying reason for taking paid sick leave. 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 FFCRA is to provide such paid sick leave as necessary to keep you from spreading the virus to others. There may be exceptions to this practice for critical employees in accordance with the CDC’s Return to Work Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Workers

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

In contrast, you may take paid sick leave intermittently if you are taking paid sick leave to care for your child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons.

May I take my Expanded Family and Medical Leave intermittently if I am working on university property (as opposed to teleworking)?

Yes, if you are unable to work your normal scheduled weekly hours because you need to care for your child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, then you may take Expanded Family and Medical Leave intermittently. If the need for leave is foreseeable, then you are strongly encouraged to work with your department to schedule that leave if at all possible. If your need for leave is not foreseeable, then you are required to follow your department’s normal call in procedures.

How much will I be paid while on Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave?

While taking Emergency Paid Sick Leave, you will receive 100% of your regular pay, regardless of the qualifying reason.

While taking Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFML), you may use Emergency Paid Sick Leave for the first two weeks or substitute your own accrued paid time off to receive 100% pay. The remaining ten weeks will then be paid at 2/3 of your regular pay.

May I use my accrued paid time off to supplement the paid portion of Expanded Family and Medical Leave and receive 100% of my regular pay?

No. You may not use paid time off accruals and the paid portion of Expanded Family and Medical at the same time, for the same reason. You may, however, choose to use your accrued paid time off instead of paid Expanded Family and Medical Leave, in order to receive 100% of your regular pay.

Does the “Shelter in Place” order by my county qualify for Emergency Paid Sick Leave as being “subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order”?

Yes. Shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, issued by any Federal, State, or local government authority that cause you to be unable to work either on university property or remotely, even though your employer has work that you could perform but for the order.

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 Expanded Family and Medical Leave?

No. You may take up to two weeks (80 hours for a full-time employee, pro-rated for part-time employees) of paid sick leave for any combination of qualifying reasons. However, the total number of hours for which you will receive paid sick leave is capped at two weeks under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. 

If I am home with my child(ren) because their school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, do I get Emergency Paid Sick Leave, Expanded Family and Medical Leave, or both—how do they interact?

You may be eligible for both types of leave, but only for a total of twelve weeks of paid leave. You may take both paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to care for your child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides for an initial two weeks of paid leave. This covers the first ten workdays of Expanded Family and Medical Leave, which are otherwise unpaid under the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act unless you elect to use your accrued paid time off. After the first ten workdays have elapsed, you will receive 2/3 of your regular pay for the remaining ten weeks under the Emergency and Family Medical Leave Expansion Act.

Please note that you can only receive the additional ten weeks of expanded family and medical leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act for leave to care for your child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.

Is all leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) now paid leave?

No. The only type of family and medical leave that is paid leave is Expanded Family and Medical Leave that exceeds ten days, and is taken because the employee must care for a child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons.

What documents do I have to submit to get Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded Family and Medical Leave?

For Emergency Paid Sick Leave, no documentation is required. You must, however, follow your department’s normal procedure for requesting time off if your need for leave is foreseeable, and your department’s normal call in procedure if it is not.

For Expanded Family and Medical Leave, you must submit an Expanded Family and Medical Leave Request Form online. Human Resources – Benefits and Leave Management will then evaluate your request, and if approved, award you the time. 

What does it mean to be unable to work, including telework for COVID-19 related reasons?

You are unable to work if your department has work for you, and one of the COVID-19 qualifying reasons prevents you from being able to do so either on campus or remotely.

If you and your department agree to flexible working arrangements that allow you to work all of your scheduled weekly hours outside of your normal workday (for instance early in the morning or late at night), then you are able to work, and leave is not necessary.

If my department reduces my scheduled weekly hours, can I use Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded Family and Medical Leave for the hours that I am no longer scheduled to work?

No. If your department reduces your scheduled weekly hours because it does not have work for you to perform, you may not use paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for the hours that you are no longer scheduled to work. This is because you are not prevented from working those hours due to a COVID-19 qualifying reason, even if your reduction in hours was related to a COVID-19 business decision.

You may, however, take Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded Family and Medical Leave if a COVID-19 qualifying reason prevents you from working your full schedule. If you do, the amount of leave to which you are entitled is computed based on your work schedule before it was reduced.

May I collect unemployment insurance benefits for time in which I receive pay for paid sick leave and/or expanded family and medical leave?

No. If you are provided Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded Family and Medical Leave, you are not eligible for unemployment insurance. However, each State has its own unique set of rules; and DOL recently clarified additional flexibility to the States (UIPL 20-10) to extend partial unemployment benefits to workers whose hours or pay have been reduced. Therefore, you should contact your State workforce agency or State unemployment insurance office for specific questions about eligibility. For additional information, please refer to https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/service-locator.aspx.

Who is a child?

Under the FFCRA, a “child” is your own child, which includes your biological, adopted, or foster child, your stepchild, a legal ward, or a child for whom you are standing in loco parentis—someone with day-to-day responsibilities to care for or financially support a child. For additional information about in loco parentis, see Fact Sheet #28B: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for birth, placement, bonding or to care for a child with a serious health condition on the basis of an “in loco parentis” relationship.

In light of Congressional direction to interpret definitions consistently, Wage and Hour Division clarifies that under the FFCRA a “child” is also an adult child (i.e., one who is 18 years of age or older), who (1) has a mental or physical disability, and (2) is incapable of self-care because of that disability. For additional information on requirements relating to an adult child, see Fact Sheet #28K and/or call our toll free information and help line available 8 am–5 pm in your time zone, 1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243).

Do I have a right to return to work if I am taking paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act or the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act?

Generally, yes. In light of Congressional direction to interpret requirements among the Acts consistently, Wage and Hour Division clarifies that the Acts require the university to provide the same (or a nearly equivalent) job to an employee who returns to work following leave.

In most instances, you are entitled to be restored to the same or an equivalent position upon return from paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave. Thus, the university is prohibited from separating, disciplining, or otherwise discriminating against you because you take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave. Nor can the university separate, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against you because you filed 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, that would have affected you regardless of whether you took leave. This means the university can lay you off for legitimate business reasons, but the university must be able to demonstrate that you would have been laid off even if you had not taken leave.

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 are an eligible employee, you are entitled to Emergency Paid Sick Leave regardless of how much leave you have taken under the FMLA.

However, your eligibility for Expanded Family and Medical Leave depends on how much leave you have already taken during the university’s rolling 12-month calendar. You may take a total of 12 workweeks for FMLA or Expanded Family and Medical Leave reasons during a 12-month period. If you have taken some, but not all, 12 workweeks of your leave under FMLA during the current 12 month period, then you may take the remaining portion of leave available. If you have already taken 12 workweeks of FMLA leave during this 12-month period, you may not take additional Expanded Family and Medical Leave. 

For example, assume you are eligible for preexisting FMLA leave and took two weeks of such leave in January 2020 to undergo and recover from a surgical procedure. You therefore have 10 weeks of FMLA leave remaining. Because expanded family and medical leave is a type of FMLA leave, you would be entitled to take up to 10 weeks of expanded family and medical leave, rather than 12 weeks. And any expanded family and medical leave you take would count against your entitlement to preexisting FMLA leave.

May I take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) over the next 12 months if I used some or all of my Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFML)?

It depends. You may take a total of 12 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period under the FMLA, including the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. If you take some, but not all 12, workweeks of your expanded family and medical leave 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 workweeks in the 12-month period. Please note that expanded family and medical leave is available only until December 31, 2020; after that, you may only take FMLA leave.

For example, assume you take four weeks of Expanded Family and Medical Leave in April 2020 to care for your child whose school is closed due to a COVID-19 related reason. These four weeks count against your entitlement to 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period. If you are eligible for preexisting FMLA leave and need to take such leave in August 2020 because you need surgery, you would be entitled to take up to eight weeks of FMLA leave in addition to any state leave to which you are entitled.

However, you are entitled to paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act regardless of how much leave you have taken under the FMLA. Paid sick leave is not a form of FMLA leave and therefore does not count toward the 12 workweeks in the 12-month period cap. But please note that if you take paid sick leave concurrently with the first two weeks of expanded family and medical leave, which may otherwise be unpaid, then those two weeks do count towards the 12 workweeks in the 12-month period.