WASHINGTON, D.C. — With school and summer activity schedules greatly altered as America continues to re-open in the wake of the coronavirus, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued two Field Assistance Bulletins to clarify issues relevant to the pandemic’s effects on the workplace.

The bulletins specifically address the following:

  • The assessment of when schools that are physically closed for coronavirus related reasons are considered “in session” for purposes of federal child labor requirements, and
  • Paid sick or expanded family and medical leave eligibility under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) based on the closure of summer camps, summer enrichment programs, or other summer programs.

“As workers and employers deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the workplace, the U.S. Department of Labor’s priorities include ensuring our response provides the support and information they need,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “The guidance provided to our field offices in these bulletins, which we are sharing publicly, clarifies some unique issues surrounding the reality of distance and virtual learning and the transition from school to summer child care. We will continue to provide guidance as new situations and issues arise.”

Field Assistance Bulletin 2020-3 clarifies how child labor laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) apply to the employment of children when schools are in session while physically closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In general, school is in session if the local public school district requires students to participate in virtual or distance learning, even if schools in the district are physically closed.

Field Assistance Bulletin 2020-4 provides guidance on when an employee qualifies to take paid leave under the FFCRA to care for his or her child based on the closure of a summer camp, summer enrichment program or other summer program for coronavirus-related reasons.

The law enables employers to provide their workers with paid leave, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus. The FFCRA helps the U.S. combat and defeat the workplace effects of the coronavirus by giving tax credits to American businesses with fewer than 500 employees to reimburse the costs of providing employees with paid leave for specified reasons related to the coronavirus.

Visit WHD’s Quick Benefits Tips for information about how much leave workers may qualify to use and the wages employers must pay.