Attendance & Leave

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) provides certain employees* with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. This paid sick leave does not carry over to the following year.

What am I eligible for?

There are two provisions in the Act that provide paid leave to employees forced to miss work because of COVID-19: (1) the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (Emergency FMLA) and (2) the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.

Certain employees* who have been employed at least 30 calendar days are eligible for Emergency FMLA, while the Emergency Paid Sick Leave is available to employees from their first day of employment. The leave entitlement under each provision is different.

Emergency FMLA

Under Emergency FMLA, an employee may take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave if the employee cannot work (or telework) due to having to care for the employee’s child (under eighteen years of age) if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable, due to the COVID-19. The first 10 days of leave may be unpaid, but the employee may elect to be paid by substituting accrued paid leave. After the first 10 days, the leave is paid, as follows:

  • For employees with regular (non-variable) hours of work: at least 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work, not to exceed $200/day and $10,000 in aggregate.
  • For employees with variable hours who have worked six months: at least two-thirds of regular pay based on the average number of hours the employee worked for the six months prior to taking Emergency FMLA.
  • For employees with variable hours who have not worked six months: the employee’s reasonable expectation when hired of the average number of hours that the employee would normally be scheduled to work.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

This law provides employees with a separate and new entitlement of up to 80 hours of paid sick leave in addition to any accrued paid leave provided under the University’s leave policy. This leave is available for the following reasons:

  1. Employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
  1. Employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  1. Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  1. Employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in 1 or has been advised as described in 2.
  1. Employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son of daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.
  1. Employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

The duration of this particular leave is 80 hours; part-time employees’ leave is calculated on the average number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work. Paid leave under this section is provided as follows:

  • For leave related to reasons (1), (2) or (3) above leave is provided at the employee’s regular rate of pay, but no more than $511/day and $5110 in aggregate.
  • For leave related to reasons (4), (5) or (6) above is two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay, but no more than $200/day and $2000 in aggregate.

What is the employee’s notice obligation?

Where leave is foreseeable, an employee should provide notice of leave as soon as is practicable. After the first workday of paid sick time, an employer may require employees to follow reasonable notice procedures in order to continue receiving paid sick time. Should HR not receive completed documentation, and you remain absent from employment with USF, you understand that you may be subject to termination from your position, consistent with USF’s policies and regulations regarding attendance and unexcused absences.

Who should I contact with questions?

For additional information or assistance please contact the employee relations team at employee-relations@usf.edu or your Regional HR Office, or USF Health HR office. For FMLA specific questions, please contact the Division of Human Resources FMLA team at fmla@usf.edu or your Regional HR Office or USF Health HR Office.

OTHER QUESTIONS

Can I use administrative leave while self-isolating or am I required to use accrued leave? 

Administrative leave is currently unavailable for employees in any job classification related to USF’s COVID-19 response. Regular leave policies continue to apply.

Prior to March 15, 2020, USF issued temporary guidance that employees who were diagnosed with COVID-19 by their healthcare provider or were directed to self-isolate by a government official (i.e. not merely encouraged or suggested to self-isolate) would be granted administrative leave for the isolation period. The use of administrative leave in this limited context was intended to support a safe work environment by making sure that no employee who was positively diagnosed or directed to self-isolate would feel compelled to come to work because of a lack of accrued leave. This was especially a concern prior to shifting to telework and remote instruction while on-campus populations were at normal levels. 

The university consistently states in its regular updates that USF’s response to COVID-19 is fluid: This is an evolving situation. Please refer to the most recent information presented.   For example, in response to changing circumstances, after March 15, 2020, USF shifted to an operational environment where all employees who were able to work remotely were encouraged to do so.  This step was taken to minimize the on-campus population and to maximize opportunities for social distancing in the workplace as well as to align with the shift to remote instruction. 

It remains the case that employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or directed to self-isolate should not be on campus.  Such employees should continue to follow the directions of their healthcare providers and may use accrued leave, if available. 

We understand that there are many burdens on employees who are unable to tele-work and who do not have accrued leave. Human Resources is developing additional guidance regarding leave sources for employees under recently enacted federal legislation in addition to considering potential, internal options.

There are “safer at home” orders issued by my county / city / state.  How does this impact me?

Under the current, state safer at home orders, USF as a State University has the authority to continue operations and determine those employees who need to physically report for work. This includes employees deemed essential or providing mission critical functions that cannot be performed remotely.  All other employees are to remain off campus and work remotely, if their duties allow. Please consult your supervisor if you are in doubt about your status.

It should be remembered that the overriding goal is to minimize contact between individuals to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Employees should stay at home as much as possible and should only come to campus when necessary to perform their designated critical functions.

My position at USF does not earn sick leave.  Do the new requirements give me access to the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Benefit?

Possibly.  The benefit applies to certain employees* who meet the qualifying reasons related to COVID-19.

For the Emergency FMLA benefit, does it apply to all employees?

As long as you have been employed for 30 days, the benefit applies to certain employees* who meet the qualifying reasons related to COVID-19.

Does this emergency paid sick leave impact other sick leave I may have?

No, this leave is additional to any other leave you may have earned.  Employees wishing to apply for emergency paid leave will be required to submit an emergency sick leave form to their HR office or Regional HR office.

Where can I apply and what documentation do I need for the Emergency FMLA or the Emergency Sick Leave?

Employees can apply for benefits using self-service in GEMS at USF Employee Leave > Emergency COV19 Leave.  Select from the tabs: Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Emergency FMLA.  The request must be sent along with your medical documentation from your health care provider to expeditious processing of your request.

*Health Care Providers and First Responders are exempt under this Act.

Please note that this guidance is subject to change and will be updated regularly.