From April 1-December 31, 2020, UT System will offer COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) and expanded Family and Medical Leave (Expanded FML) to all eligible UT System employees pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The leave provided under the FFCRA does not modify an employee’s right to use sick, personal, or vacation time, as set forth in our current policies. Rather, these new provisions expand UT System’s employee benefits by requiring that UT System temporarily grant additional leave to certain employees due to COVID-19.
To the extent possible, we encourage the use of flexible work schedules to allow you to perform your job duties. If you are not able to perform your job duties, there are a variety of leave options based on the reason for leave. The Leave Guide below identifies reasons for leave (both related and unrelated to COVID-19) and informs you of the different leave types that you may use based on the different reasons. Not all employees will be eligible for all leave types, and not all leave types will be applicable or available for every reason. The guide below also provides some additional detail regarding eligibility terms, your entitlement (including pay rate and hour and pay caps), and the process for using the leave. Using the steps below, this guide will help to identify leave options specific to you. For assistance, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When can eligible employees use EPSL and EFML?
April 1 – December 31, 2020.
Who is an “eligible employee” for EPSL and EFML?
EPSL: All employees (hourly and salaried) are eligible from their first day of employment.
EFML: All employees (hourly and salaried) must be employed with UT System for at least 30 calendar days.
What are the reasons that an eligible employee can take EPSL?
An eligible employee who is unable to work (or telecommute) may take EPSL for one of the following reasons:
The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 (including a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order);
The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
The employee is caring for an individual (not required to be a family member) who is subject to an order as described in paragraph 1 or has been advised as described in paragraph 2;
The employee is caring for their son or daughter if the child’s school or place of care has been closed or the child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions (the child must be under 18 unless the child is unable to care for himself or herself due to a mental or physical disability; or
The 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.
What is the reason that an eligible employee can take EFML?
School closure/unavailability of childcare: An eligible employee who is unable to work (or telecommute) may take EFML when an emergency has been declared by a federal, state, or local authority related to COVID-19 and the employee is unable to work (or telecommute) because the employee must care for a son or daughter under age 18 whose elementary or secondary school or place of care has been closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19. An employee may also be eligible to care for a child who is unable to care for himself or herself due to a mental or physical disability.
An employee may take EFML (or EPSL as described above) to care for the employee’s child only when the employee actually needs to care for the child and is unable to work or telecommute as a result of providing care. Generally, an employee does not need to take such leave if a co-parent, co-guardian, or usual child care provider is available to provide the care the child needs.
Can employees take EPSL or EFML due to school closure or unavailability of childcare if their son or daughter is not their biological child?
Yes. Children are defined as any biological, adopted, foster, stepchild, legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis (e.g., grandparents caring for grandchildren). The child must be under the age of 18, unless the child is incapable of self-care due to mental or physical disability.
If an employee can perform their job duties remotely but cannot work due to a COVID-19-related school closure or unavailability of childcare is the employee still eligible to use EPSL or EFML?
Yes, if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the child’s childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19.
What does it mean to be unable to work, including telecommuting for COVID-19 related reasons?
An employee is unable to work if UT System has work for the employee and one of the COVID-19 qualifying reasons set forth in the FFCRA prevents the employee from being able to perform that work, either under normal circumstances at their normal worksite or by means of telecommuting.
If the employee and their manager agree that the employee will work the employee’s normal number of hours, but outside of normally-scheduled hours (for instance early in the morning or late at night), then the employee is able to work, and leave is not necessary unless a COVID-19 qualifying reason prevents the employee from working that schedule.
What amount of leave and pay are eligible employees entitled to receive under the EPSL and EFML?
- Eligible full-time employees are entitled to two weeks of paid time off (up to 80 hours total) for any combination of qualifying reasons.
- Eligible part-time employees are entitled to the typical number of hours they are scheduled to work in a two-week period.
- EPSL payments are subject to the following limitations:
- If an employee takes EPSL for reasons 1, 2, and 3 above, the paid leave is at the employee’s normal rate of pay, up to $511/day (or $5,110 in the aggregate).
- If an employee takes EPSL for reasons 4, 5, and 6 above, the paid leave is at 2/3 the employee’s normal rate of pay, up to $200/day (or $2,000 in the aggregate).
- An employee must use paid leave (accrued vacation, floating holiday, compensatory time, overtime) or EPSL to be paid during the first 2 weeks (10 days) of EFML. Employees may not elect to use accrued state sick leave, which cannot be used for child care reasons.
- After the first two weeks, employees are entitled to 10 weeks of EFML paid at two-thirds (2/3) of the employee’s regular rate for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work, subject to a cap of $200/day or $10,000 in the aggregate.
- Eligible full-time employees are entitled to 40 hours of pay each week.
- Eligible part-time employees are entitled to pay for the average number of hours that they would otherwise be normally scheduled to work.
- If an eligible employee works a varying schedule such that the number of hours the employee would have otherwise worked is not known with certainty, the employee is entitled to the average number of hours the employee was scheduled per day over the prior 6 months or, if the employee did not work over that period, the reasonable expectation at hiring of the average number of hours the employee would work per day.
Who is defined as an “individual” in reason 4?
The Department of Labor defines “individual” as an employee’s immediate family member, a person who regularly resides in the employee’s home, or a similar person with whom the employee has a relationship that creates an expectation that the employee would care for them in a quarantine situation.
Is an employee’s personal health information confidential?
Generally, yes, an employee’s personal health information is confidential. If an employee is asked to provide medical documentation to support an absence, the employee should provide it only to the Office of Talent & Innovation (HR) where it will remain confidential and will be maintained consistent with information gathered for ADA and FMLA purposes. In the interest of protecting their own personal health information, employees are encouraged to refrain from sharing personal health information with coworkers and managers.
Does the EFML extend employees’ 12-week traditional FMLA entitlement by an additional 12 weeks?
No. EFML temporarily provides an additional reason to take FMLA leave, but it does not entitle employees to a combined 24 weeks of leave. The combined total leave permitted under the FMLA, including the new reason for leave related to school closures/unavailability of childcare, is subject to the 12-week maximum in any 12-month period. Employees who have already exhausted their FMLA are not eligible to take EFML until the employee has accrued additional FMLA time pursuant to the normal statutory FMLA leave requirements.
What is the maximum amount of combined EPSL and EFML an employee is entitled to due to school closures/unavailability of childcare?
An eligible employee who is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19 is eligible for up to 14 weeks of the new federal leave, conditioned upon the employee’s available FMLA leave, if the federal leave is taken consecutively: two weeks of EPSL followed by 12 weeks of EFML, the first two weeks of which are unpaid unless the employee elects to use accrued vacation or compensatory time.
Summary of Maximum Entitlement to Federal Leave due to School/Childcare Closures:
Weeks 1-2: EPSL paid at 2/3 of employee’s regular rate, for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work; maximum payment of $200/day
Weeks 3-4: unpaid EFML
Weeks 5-14: paid at 2/3 of employee’s regular rate, for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work; maximum payment of $200/day and $10,000 total.
Does the EFML change an employee’s entitlement to use traditional FMLA if the employee or the employee’s family member becomes sick due to COVID-19?
EFML does not impact an employee’s normal rights under the FMLA. If an employee needs to request leave for a traditional FMLA-qualifying reason, they should email email@example.com
An employee may take a total of 12 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period for a traditional FMLA reason and/or for EFML. If an employee takes some, but not all 12, workweeks of EFML by December 31, 2020, the employee may take the remaining portion of FMLA leave for a serious medical condition, as long as the total time does not exceed 12 workweeks in the 12-month period.
If an employee has used FMLA for a reason unrelated to COVID-19 school closure/unavailability of childcare, is the employee still entitled to take EFML?
Yes, but the amount of EFML available depends on how much leave the employee has already taken during the 12-month measured forward period. An employee may take a total of 12 workweeks of FMLA or EFML. If an employee has taken some, but not all, of the 12 workweeks of FML during the current 12-month period, the employee may take the remaining portion of leave available. If the employee already has taken 12 workweeks of FMLA leave during this 12-month period, the employee may not take additional EFML. The 12-month period starts on the first date FMLA/EFML is reported.
Are employees required to provide advanced notice of the need for leave?
Employees must provide as much notice of leave as is practicable when the need for leave is foreseeable.
What documentation must employees submit to the institution to support the need for leave?
Employees must submit the Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded Family & Medical Leave request form. Supporting documentation may be required and should be readily available upon request.
Employees requesting EPSL for reasons 2, 3 and 4 may be required to submit documentation from a health care provider.
Employees requesting EPSL for reasons 1, 5 and 6 may or Expanded FML be required to submit documentation of the quarantine/isolation order or establishing the school closure or unavailability of the child care provider.
Can UT System require employees to exhaust their state accrued paid leave before using EPSL?
May an employee use EPSL or EFML intermittently while working remotely?
Yes, if an employee is unable to telecommute their normal hours due to one of the qualifying reasons for using EPSL or EFML. The employee may take intermittent leave in any increment, provided that the employee and the supervisor agree.
Can employees carryover unused EPSL beyond December 31, 2020?
Are employees paid out for unused EPSL or EFML upon separation or death?
Is EPSL or EFML time credited for TRS and ORP?
Yes. This answer is subject to change based on TRS guidance.
Has UT System posted the official federal government notice regarding the FFCRA?
UT System provided an electronic copy of the model notification via email on April 1, 2020. The model notification is also located at the top of this page.