Have You Heard of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?

By Anne Elam November 18, 2020

Well, here we go again.  

As of today, New York City schools have officially shut down for a second time due to the Coronavirus pandemic. If, like me, you’re a working mom with school-age children, you’re likely wondering when schools in the New Orleans area will follow suit. When New Orleans schools and businesses shut down in March, the village upon which I had become so reliant to maintain my little life was suddenly gone. My septuagenarian mother could no longer help me due to fears of her contracting the virus.  My regular sitters and friends took similar steps. I was a single mom, alone with my kids 24/7, with the expectations of a full-time job and at a complete loss as to how I would keep everything afloat.  Having talked to many working moms over the past several months, I know my story is incredibly common.  

After the initial shutdown in March, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which expands family and medical leave (FMLA) relating to the pandemic. FFCRA covers certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees. All employees of covered employers are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19.  Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19. FFCRA is effective from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

As it relates to the New Orleans area potentially shutting down again, you may qualify to take partial paid leave from your job if you have been employed by a covered employer for at least thirty (30) days and you are unable to work or telework because of your bona fide need to care for your child(ren) if daycare centers and schools close. By now, your employer should understand its obligations under FFCRA and have implemented a standard operating procedure similar to FMLA for you to submit your request for leave under the temporary law.  If you have additional questions regarding your eligibility and limitations of the law, your first stop should be  

The Department of Labor has published a wealth of information regarding FFCRA as well as FAQs. However, if you have nuanced legal questions, personal concerns about how your workplace would react to your FFCRA request, or have received pushback from your employer on your request under FFCRA, FMLA, or any other law, you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your options.

Hopefully, New Orleans infection rates stabilize and local authorities keep schools open. That said, I think it’s important for primary caregivers to know about this little-publicized workplace protection, which could mean the difference between you maintaining your sanity while keeping your job and feeling like you need to put the kids up for sale.  

Anne Hoskins is an attorney who represents working women throughout Southeast Louisiana.  If you believe your employer is violating the law, is adversely affecting your employment status, or if you have been unlawfully terminated, you can reach Anne at (504) 234-4672 or