The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was enacted to specifically address concerns around COVID-19 and to assist employees affected by the COVID-19 outbreak with job protection and paid leave for the period April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
The Act’s expiration is creating challenges for employees who continue to balance working from home with childcare needs. New legislation has been introduced at the state and federal levels that would extend FFCRA paid leaves, however, it is not clear whether or when such legislation will be passed and, if so, to what extent they will apply to Hennepin County employees.
Under FFCRA, employees’ use of paid leave included leave for childcare when circumstances required an employee to be off work due to the need to care for a child whose school was closed, or childcare provider was unavailable because of COVID-19. Employees who were employed with the County at least 30 days were eligible to take up to 12 weeks of such leave.
The current request is to grant the County Administrator the authority to allow paid leave for childcare, in an amount not to exceed 160 hours and at two-thirds (2/3) pay, under the same qualifying reasons.
Hennepin County Board Resolution 09-0380 granted the County Administrator the authority to allow employees with insufficient paid leave hour balances to accrue a negative vacation/sick leave/PTO balance not to exceed 160 hours, under circumstances requiring employees to be off work due to a declared emergency.
Resolution 20-0119R1 increased the not to exceed amount to 240 hours. All other rules adopted pursuant to Resolution 09-0380 "negative leave balance" policy remain in effect.
Resolution 20-0119R1 also offered forgiveness of 40 hours negative accrual to employees in good standing who stay with the county on both the one and two year anniversary dates of the end of declared emergency. The current request offers additional forgiveness of 160 hours negative accrual spread over four years on the anniversary dates of the end of the declared emergency.
This combined total of 240 hours forgiveness of negative accrual is in recognition and appreciation of employees’ commitment to the county and its mission as well as recognition of employee wellbeing.
It is requested that the County Administrator be granted the authority to allow paid leave for childcare, in an amount not to exceed 160 hours and at a two-thirds (2/3) pay as outlined above and that employees in good standing are forgiven 60 hours of any negative accruals on the first, second, third and fourth year anniversary dates of the end of declared emergency.