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Executive Order Extends Emergency Paid Sick Leave for School Employees

On February 4, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 10, extending Emergency Paid Sick Leave for employees of local and regional boards of education in Connecticut.  This extension is only applicable to boards of education and not to private-sector or other municipal employers.

The Executive Order extends the Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) available under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  This extension does not apply to the Emergency FMLA (child-care) portion of the FFCRA.

Essentially, the extension grants employees the ability to use EPSL time for which they would have been eligible, had the FFCRA not expired on December 31, 2020.  Employers appear to be required to grant EPSL leave retroactively.  For example, an employee who used personal sick time for a mandatory quarantine in January 2021, would be eligible to have that time reinstated and converted to EPSL.

The Executive Order does not increase the overall duration of leave available to school staff for those who used EPSL prior to December 31, 2020.  In other words, this is not a new bank of 2 weeks (up to 80 hours).  If an employee used one week of EPSL in 2020, that employee would have one week remaining under this extension. Unlike the federal FFCRA which had a definite expiration date, this extension applies for the duration of the public health and civil preparedness emergency, unless earlier modified by Governor Lamont.

Boards of education should immediately review any policy statements or advisories issued in light of FFCRA’s expiration and reconsider them in light of Executive Order 10.  They should also review any requests for leave since December 31, 2020, and allow for the use of EPSL, where applicable, keeping in mind that this extension does not require any additional leave time beyond the 2 weeks.  Employees should be held to the same eligibility and documentation requirements as before.   Employees can still use leave for child-care reasons under EPSL, but subject to the 2-week limit, not the 12 weeks that was available under Emergency FMLA.

Our attorneys are ready to assist with all labor and employment matters, including administration of employee leave policies.  Please contact us if we can assist you in complying with this mandate.