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The importance of childcare has been an unappreciated issue until schools began closing in the wake of the coronavirus. Parents are suddenly having to make alternate plans for their young children on the fly, often without public resources to lean upon. This strains the average family that requires both parents to work, particularly for those still going to an office or worksite for their job. For many families, the nationwide shutdown has raised as many questions and concerns as it has solutions, so we’re providing information for some of the most urgent questions here.

FAQ’s Amid Coronavirus Crisis:

SCHOOL CLOSINGS

My child’s school is asking me to keep them home, but I have to go to work. What can I do?

If your child’s school is closing due to coronavirus and you have no options for childcare, you may have to stay home. For those working remotely, that can be a drain on your attention and productivity. But for those unable to do so, it might require time off from work. Employees can use their allotted sick days per company policy or may be eligible to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). As part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law on March 18, 2020, the FMLA is amended to offer employees, who have worked for at least 30 days, up to twelve weeks of coronavirus-related leave. The first two weeks would be unpaid but accrued vacation or paid-time-off (PTO) could be used in that time. The ten weeks thereafter are paid at two-thirds an employee’s regular wage up to $200 a day and two weeks of paid sick leave for those not normally afforded those benefits.

CHILDCARE

Can my employer punish me if I’m forced to stay home and care for my child?

Technically an employer can terminate you if you exceed your allotted number of sick and/or leave days under company policy and the FMLA. While the Families First Coronavirus Response Act expands paid sick leave to two weeks and paid family leave to ten weeks at two-thirds pay (after two weeks of unpaid leave), the final version of the bill exempts businesses with less than 50 employees where the business’ viability is threatened and more than 500 employees from providing these benefits, including an exemption for family leave provisions. Those still receiving pay from their employer are also ineligible for the new emergency leave. In light of this, employees should talk with their employer to see if their company qualifies, or if they are planning to offer anything outside what is mandated. Please note that the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act will be in effect until December 31, 2020.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

My loved one is overseas and needs to get back to the U.S. What are airlines required to do to help?

At the moment, the U.S. State Department is not formally providing assistance or guidance to return American citizens back into the country beyond the screening and isolation processes in place upon return. However, airlines are continuing to run at least some flights back into the U.S. and are waiving change fees and capping ticket prices in an effort to help Americans abroad get home.

COLLEGE STUDENTS

My child is a college student and was forced to go home for the remainder of the semester; Will I get a refund?

While most colleges are attempting to continue the semester through remote learning, it’s unclear whether students and parents will be refunded the costs of housing and food for the time campuses are closed. At present, some colleges have introduced plans to repay those costs, while others have not yet shared their plans on if refunds will or won’t be coming. Students and families should check with their particular institution.

Struggling families need answers in these chaotic times and trying to navigate through new employment and family leave laws can be confusing under the best of circumstances. LegalShield Members can talk with an attorney to address all their legal concerns with personal plans starting at $24.95 a month.

 – John Wilson
L.A.W. Enterprise
(251) 656-8540

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