Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Information for 2021

Katie Saylor, Senior Benefits Specialist 

chalkboard saying "families first coronavirus response act" with medical supplies

New year, same virus—one that continues to upend our faculty and staff members’ daily lives. With that in mind, campus leadership has decided to extend the expanded Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) benefits, originally provided through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), through March 31, 2021, to help our campus community members take care of their health, families and continue to work. Let’s do a quick refresh on expanded FMLA and EPSL and what they can provide.

For faculty and staff members experiencing symptoms of COVID, in quarantine from exposure or taking care of a family member who has the coronavirus, up to 80 working hours for full-time faculty and staff members, the equivalent number of hours worked in two weeks for part-time faculty and staff members, will be available as emergency sick leave pay. This leave doesn’t draw from accrued sick or vacation leave. To use this leave, submit the EPSL form to HR@uco.edu. Please remember that if a faculty or staff member has already used this 80-hour emergency sick leave bank, this option is not available for a second time. 

For campus members who have children on a virtual school schedule or COVID-19 school or daycare closure and are trying to balance it all while teleworking, the expanded FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave that can be used intermittently to provide time for faculty and staff members to help their dependents with school or care and not have the pressure of work interfere with that time. For 12 weeks of leave, faculty and staff draw 2/3 of their time from a bank provided by the university that does not draw from accrued sick or vacation, and 1/3 of their time from accrued sick or vacation leave. To begin using expanded FMLA, fill out the request form and submit to Benefits@uco.edu

The University’s decision to extend both types of leave are not required by law but done in a good faith effort to help faculty and staff while also helping them preserve their accrued leave. As an institution of higher education, UCO is not reimbursed for this leave like private employers.  

If you’re a supervisor, you should be on the lookout for how this can help your faculty or staff members take time to care for their family’s needs and themselves while still focusing on their work. Individuals exhausting themselves trying to do it all simultaneously should view FFCRA as an excellent resource for this unprecedented time.  

Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. If the Benefits department can help facilitate any conversation about expanded FMLA or EPSL, please get in touch

Stay safe, everyone!