EFMLEA / EPSLA Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions and answers regarding the EFMLEA and EPSLA.
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) were enacted by Congress and are effective from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Both acts provide leave to eligible employees for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As federal guidelines are updated and clarified surrounding the EPSLA and the EFMLEA the Department of Personnel will keep this page updated with answers to frequently asked questions which have been asked by City employees. Further, the Department of Personnel has enacted regulations to provide guidance to employees and appointing authorities.
This Pay Regulation outlines the requirements and procedures for employees who may take leave under the EPSLA.
This Administrative Regulation is an extension of Department of Personnel Administrative Regulation No. 133 (Family and Medical Leave). It outlines the requirements and procedures for employees to take leave under the EFMLEA.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA)?
The EPSLA is an act which allows employees to take two workweeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave (PSL) for various reasons related to COVID-19. This leave can be used if the employee:
a. Is subject to a quarantine/isolation order related to COVID-19;
b. Has been advised by a health care provider to self quarantine due to concerns regarding COVID -19;
c. Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a diagnosis;
d. Is caring for an individual who is a family member or regularly resides in the employee's home and who is subject to a quarantine/isolation order or has been told to self quarantine; or
e. Is caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed (or childcare provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.
This leave does not count against an employee’s accrued vacation, medical, sick, or compensatory time leave balances. Further, it can be used in conjunction with the first two unpaid weeks of leave under the EFMLEA.
- What is the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA)?
The EFMLEA is an extension of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It provides leave to employees who are unable to work or telework due to the need for leave to care for a son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons.
- Who is eligible for EFMLEA and EPSLA leave?
a. EFMLEA - All employees, except as noted below, who have been employed for at least 30 days are eligible for EFMLEA leave (EFML) to care for their son or daughter whose school or place of care has been closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons.
b. EPSLA - All employees, except as noted below, regardless of length of employment, are eligible for PSL.
Health Care Provider and Emergency Responder Exceptions
Health Care Providers and Emergency Responders, as designated by their appointing authorities, are only eligible for PSL if the they are subject to a quarantine/isolation order related to COVID-19; have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis.
Health Care Providers and Emergency Responders are not eligible for EFML.
For information on whether a job classification qualifies for the above exception appointing authorities should contact the Employee Relations Section at 622-3563.
- Who is considered a “childcare provider” for the purposes of determining eligibility for PSL or EFML?
A “childcare provider” is someone who cares for the employee’s son or daughter. This includes individuals paid to provide child care, like nannies and babysitters. It also includes individuals who provide child care at no cost and without a license on a regular basis, for example, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or neighbors.
- Who is a son or daughter?
Under the EPSLA and EFMLEA, a “son or daughter” is an employee’s own child, under the age of 18, which includes biological, adopted, or foster child, their stepchild, a legal ward, or a child for whom the employee is standing in loco parentis—someone with day-to-day responsibilities to care for or financially support a child.
A “son or daughter” is also an adult son or daughter (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.
- How much leave is an employee eligible for under the EFMLEA?
The EFMLEA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of leave at 40 hours a week. However, any FML that the employee has used in the past 12 months will count towards the 12 weeks.
- Does an employee get paid while on EFMLEA leave?
After an initial unpaid two weeks of unpaid leave (which may actually be paid if the employee is eligible for leave under the EPSLA), an employee may qualify for ten additional weeks of paid leave at 2/3 their regular rate. This leave does not count against an employee’s accrued vacation, medical, sick or compensatory time leave balances, unless the employee uses accrued leave to cover the first two weeks of unpaid leave under this act. There is a $200 a day limit and $10,000 limit in the aggregate over the 10 week period following the initial two week period.
An employee who is not eligible for or has exhausted his/her PSL must use accrued vacation time prior to being placed on leave without pay status during the first two unpaid weeks of EFML, in accordance with Department of Personnel Administrative Regulation No. 133 (Family and Medical Leave).
- Does an employee accrue vacation and medical leave when on EFML or PSL?
Yes, so long as they are still receiving either full or 2/3 rate pay in accordance with the particular type of leave they are taking.
- How do you reduce an employee's regular rate of pay to 2/3 rate of pay?
The method to reduce pay to 2/3 of an employee’s regular rate may be done via a dock, but it should not be treated as a traditional dock by payroll personnel. Payroll personnel may have to adjust leave accruals in order to ensure employees continue to accrue leave at the normal rate.
- May an employee take 80 hours of PSL to self-quarantine and then another amount of PSL for another reason provided under the EPSLA?
No. A full-time employee may take up to two weeks—or ten days—(80 hours) of PSL for any combination of qualifying reasons. A part-time employee may take the number of hours equal to the average number of hours that they work over a typical two-week period for any combination of qualifying reasons. However, the total number of hours for which any employee receives PSL is capped at 80 hours under the EPSLA.
- Does an employee have to use the 80 hours of PSL in one block of time?
No. If an employee no longer has a qualifying reason for PSL before they exhaust their PSL they may take the remaining PSL at a different time for a qualifying reason.
- Can an appointing authority deny an employee PSL if they gave the employee leave for a reason identified in the EPSLA prior to the act going into effect?
No. The EPSLA imposes a new leave requirement on employers that is effective beginning on April 1, 2020.
- If an employee’s child’s school has moved to online instruction or to another model in which children are expected or required to complete assignments at home, is it “closed”?
Yes. If the physical location where the child received instruction or care is now closed, the school is “closed” for purposes of the EPSLA and EFMLEA.
- If a child’s school is operating on an alternate day or hybrid-attendance basis (in which the school is open each day, but students alternate between days attending school in person and days participating in remote learning) is it considered closed? Can the employee take EFML or PSL in these circumstances?
Yes, an employee would be eligible to take EFML or PSL on days when their son or daughter is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning, as long as they are unable to work or telework and need the leave to care for their son or daughter during that time and no other suitable person is available to do so.
- May an employee take EFML intermittently while their child’s school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons?
Yes, but only with their appointing authority’s permission. Intermittent EFML should be permitted if the employee and their appointing authority agree upon a schedule. For example, if the son’s or daughter’s school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, for an entire week due to COVID-19 related reasons and the employee's appointing authority and employee agree, the employee may take EFML intermittently on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but work Tuesday and Thursday.
The employee could take EFML for the entire week of closure and it would not be considered intermittent leave and the schedule would not require the approval of the appointing authority. However, the employee would still need to notify the appointing authority of the need for EFML for the week in accordance with Department of Personnel Administrative Regulation No. 133A.
If the child’s school or place of care is operating in a hybrid, or alternating schedule due to COVID-19 related reasons, it is not considered intermittent leave, and as such, the schedule does not require approval from the appointing authority. In such a case, the employee must be allowed to take EFML leave on the days in which the school is closed (even if those days aren’t consecutive).
- If the employee’s child’s school gives a choice between attending school in person or participating in a remote learning program may the employee take EFML or PSL?
No, the employee is not eligible to take EFML or PSL because their child’s school is not “closed” due to COVID–19 related reasons; it is open for the child to attend. EFML and PSL is not available to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance.
- If an employee has COVID-19 symptoms, decides to quarantine for two weeks, and then returns to work, but did not seek a medical diagnosis or the advice of a health care provider can they get paid for those two weeks under the EPSLA?
An employee is generally only entitled to PSL if they become ill with COVID-19 symptoms and self quarantine to seek a medical diagnosis; are advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine; or are under a quarantine/isolation order. Also if an employee tests positive for the virus associated with COVID-19 they are eligible to take PSL.
An employee may not take PSL if they unilaterally decide to self-quarantine for an illness without medical advice, even if they have COVID-19 symptoms. Further an employee may not take PSL if they become ill with an illness not related to COVID-19.
- If an employee is still required to quarantine or isolate after having exhausted the full 80 hours of PSL, is the employee eligible to take any other leave?
The employee may be eligible for FML (not EFML). In this case, the employee or their appointing authority may contact the Employee Relations Section at 622-3563 for more information.