New federal law expands paid leave options for COVID-19 related absences

University of Nebraska employees now have additional options for taking paid leave for absences related to COVID-19, thanks to legislation recently passed by Congress.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), effective April 1, most U.S. workers are eligible for up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave for reasons related to the coronavirus, plus an additional 10 weeks of paid Family and Medical Leave for childcare because of school closures tied to COVID-19.

The new federal paid leave options are in addition to the temporary emergency administrative leave policy created by the NU system last month. Under that policy, employees may take up to 160 hours of paid administrative leave for self-quarantine, quarantine or care of an immediate family member, childcare resulting from school closures, or other scenarios related to the pandemic.

“We recognize, especially after the directive from President Ted Carter and the chancellors that all employees except designated on-site personnel must stay at home, that adequate paid leave options are an important source of relief and peace of mind as you balance work and personal responsibilities,” Bruce Currin, NU associate vice president for human resources, wrote in a message to all employees Friday.

“We’re pleased that we are able to take care of our employees in this way.”

Currin stressed that flexible work arrangements remain the “first line of defense” in ensuring the continuity of university operations. Supervisors are asked to continue to work with their teams to create as much flexibility as possible.

Details about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and requirements for its use are available here. To request FFCRA leave, employees may fill out the forms posted here; the forms can also be accessed through Firefly.

Employees are encouraged to contact their campus human resources office with questions about the FFCRA or their paid leave options.