COVID-19 Resources

Resources for Taking Leave to Provide Childcare

Requesting Coronavirus Leave Due to School Closure or Childcare Provider Unavailability

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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides up to 12 weeks of partially paid leave to eligible employees who are not able to work or telework because their child’s school or care facility is closed, or their childcare provider is unavailable, due to coronavirus. Full-time employees are eligible for full-time leave, and part-time employees are eligible for leave for the number of hours they are typically scheduled to work. The information below tells you what you need to know to figure out if you can take this leave.  We have also provided a fillable form that includes the information you are required to provide your employer to get time off under the law.

What's the law?

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Overview of Legal Rights for Childcare Leave

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act applies only to private businesses that have fewer than 500 employees and to government agencies of all sizes.
  • An employee who needs leave for childcare because schools are closed or “virtual,” or childcare providers are unavailable, because of the coronavirus is eligible for 2 weeks of emergency paid sick time. During the time off, employers must pay the employee two-thirds (2/3) of their regular rate of pay or two-thirds (2/3) of the minimum wage that applies where they work, whichever is more. Employers are not required to pay more than $200 per day or $2,000 total. Employers may not require an employee to use sick days, vacation time, or other paid time off before taking two weeks of emergency paid sick time, or while taking the emergency paid sick time. If the employer agrees, the employee may choose to use vacation, sick, or other paid time off to supplement the 2/3 pay, to receive full pay.
  • An employee who has been employed for 30 days or longer and has not already exhausted their FMLA leave for the year is also eligible to receive up to 12 weeks of emergency leave for childcare. The first 10 workdays of this leave do not have to be paid, but the employee can receive pay for the first 10 workdays by using their 2 weeks of emergency paid sick time (see above) or any vacation, sick time, or personal days they already have. After the first 10 workdays, employers must pay the employee two-thirds (2/3) of their regular rate of pay, based on the number of hours they normally work. Employers do not have to pay an employee more than $200 per day or $10,000 total of emergency paid leave ($12,000, if including the 2 weeks of paid sick time, above). Employers can require employees to use any paid time off that is available for this purpose under the employer’s policy (for example, personal leave, but typically not medical leave) and receive full pay. Or, if the employer agrees, the employee may choose to use vacation, sick, or other paid time off to supplement the 2/3 pay, to receive full pay. Be aware: Taking emergency childcare leave reduces an employee’s annual allowance of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave available for other reasons like birth/adoption.
  • If your child is allowed to attend school in person on only some days of the week, you have a right to take leave on only the days when school is virtual or closed, while continuing to work as normal on days when your child is allowed to be present at school. You may not take part-time (“intermittent”) leave for any other reason without your employer’s permission (for example, sharing childcare responsibilities with the other parent).

  • Employers receive tax credits to cover costs associated with providing paid leave. See the Internal Revenue Service for details.
  • For more information, view frequently asked questions and answers from the Department of Labor.

Who is left out of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

  • Emergency employer-paid leave and sick time is not available to all employees:
    • Employers may provide paid leave to healthcare providers and emergency responders, but they are not required to do so.
    • An employee is not eligible for paid leave if their employer does not have work for them to do during the time they need the leave (e.g., if their worksite is closed or they are furloughed).
    • Most federal employees will not be eligible for the 12 weeks of emergency leave, but will be eligible for the 2 weeks of sick time.
    • Employees who have already used all of their FMLA time for the year are not eligible for the emergency paid leave for childcare, though they are eligible for the 2 weeks of paid sick leave (see above). Check with your employer to determine what timekeeping cycle they use to determine FMLA years, and whether you have time left.
    • In rare circumstances, a business with fewer than 50 employees is not required to provide paid leave when doing so would cause the business to have to stop operating.
  • Employees who are not eligible or use up their paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act may be eligible for job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and/or other federal, state and local laws. They may also be eligible to collect unemployment insurance, pandemic unemployment assistance, paid family leave, or other benefits from the state where they work.

Are you already off work without pay?

You may be eligible for state benefits like Unemployment Insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. You can find out more by contacting your state’s unemployment office or going to its website.

Requesting Paid Time Off

Employees are required to give their employer as much notice as possible about their request for leave. Click the button below to complete a form that includes the key information you are required to provide your employer to receive paid leave to care for children due to coronavirus-related school and/or care provider closures.

Form to Request COVID-19 Childcare Leave

Still have questions?

Call the Center for WorkLife Law’s free COVID-19 Legal Helpline for more information: 415-851-3308 or covid19helpline@worklifelaw.org.

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