Appendix 4: GWSD COVID-19 Staff Leave

Appendix 4: GWSD COVID-19 Staff Leave Options  

 

The following information outlines leave options available to employees of Gunnison Watershed School District. This information is current as of July 17, 2020. Given the recent passage of the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, the information provided here is preliminary and as regulations are developed, the information around this leave will be updated and communicated.

 

All  leave request questions should be directed to Human Resources Director Tia Mills at tmills@gunnisonschools.net, 970-641-7712.  Additionally, if an employee wants to discuss the need for job accommodations and feels they have protection under the ADA, they should contact Tia Mills as soon as possible.  

 

Accrued Annual Leave/Personal Illness Leave

This is the leave each employee is awarded each year as part of the employment package.  Per Board Policy GBGG, GCCBA and Master Agreement Article 29, support staff receives one (1) annual leave day per working month, teaching staff receive eleven (11) annual days per year and administrative staff receive one (1) day per contract work month.  This leave may be taken for personal illness, personal medical appointments or other personal reasons.  In addition to the 11 days for teaching staff, per the Master Agreement (29-1-4), a teacher/SSP can request up to five (5) days of leave that may be borrowed from leave of the next school year.  Administrative staff can request to borrow a maximum of ten (10) days of sick leave from the next year of employment in the event that the accumulated sick leave is exhausted.

 

Accrued Vacation Leave

Per Board Policy GDD, all regular classified support staff employees who work 12 months out of the year are awarded ten (10) days of vacation after their first year.  Up to half of the annual awarded vacation may be carried over to the subsequent year if it is not used in the current year. 

 

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Per Board Policy GBGF, GBGF-R, GCC, GCC-R, and GDC, to be eligible for FMLA, an employee shall have been employed for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period preceding the commencement of the leave.  Eligible employees shall be entitled to a combined total of 12 weeks of leave per year.  FMLA leave is unpaid leave.

 

Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA)

This federal law was signed into law on March 18, 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  It is effective from April 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020. The Act contains two parts: The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA.)  Both of these components provide income replacement and job protection for certain COVID-19 related events and cover circumstances which would have fallen through the cracks in preexisting leave laws.

 

a.       EPSLA – This leave applies to all employees, regardless of the length of service with the current employer and provides up to two weeks (10 days) of paid sick leave for full-time employees.  Part-time employees are entitled to a prorated number of hours based on the average hours worked during the prior six (6) months.  If the employee has worked less than six (6) months, the average number of work over an expected two-week period will be used.   Leave is allowed under EPSLA if the employee:

·  Is subject to federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or is caring for someone who is subject to said orders.

·  Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns.

·  Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis

·  Is caring for his/her child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19.

The EPSLA law stipulates that the employee is due 100% of the required rate of pay for leave hours taken when the reason for the leave is based on the employee.  This pay is capped at $511 per day or $5,100 in total.  The employee is due two-thirds the required rate of pay when the reason for the leave is to care for another qualified individual.  The District has committed that the employee will receive 100% of the required rate of pay up to the $5,110 limit regardless of the need for the leave. 

 

b.       EFMLEA – EFMLEA provides up to 12 weeks of leave in the event the employee needs to care for their child whose school or place of care is closed.  This is the only qualifying reason for leave under EFMLEA.  In this circumstance, employees who have worked for the employer for at least 30 calendar days are entitled up to 12 work weeks of job-protected leave with a continuation of health insurance.  The initial two weeks of leave is unpaid with the remaining 10 weeks paid at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay.  The employer is not required to pay more than $200/day or a total of $10,000 under EFMLEA.  EFMLEA leave is counted as part of the authorized 12 weeks of leave under regular FMLA.  EFMLEA is intended to provide another qualifying reason for leave and provide pay, but it does not extend the total 12 weeks of leave authorized under FMLA.  If any employee has already used 12 weeks of FMLA, they are not eligible for EFMLEA leave.

 

Healthy Families and Workplaces Act

On July 14, 2020, the Governor of Colorado signed into law the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, SB20-205.  In addition to requiring regular sick leave, the law provides for additional sick leave during a public health emergency (PHEL).  Employers are required to provide full-time employees up to 80 hours of additional paid sick leave for the duration of the public health emergency.  Part-time employees earn the greater of the amount of time scheduled to work in a 14-day period or the amount of time actually worked over an average 14-day period of time.  Given that this law is so new, regulations have not yet been issued and there are still many questions.  The effective date for this leave is not specified,though current information suggests January 1, 2021.  The District will continue to seek guidance on this new law and what the leave means for employees.   Information will be communicated to employees as it becomes available. 

 

American’s with Disability Act (ADA)

The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.  The ADA does not specifically name all impairments covered under this Act, so if an employee thinks they might be entitled to protections under the law, they should reach out to the HR Department to discuss options.  Under the ADA, discussions between the employee and employer take place to try and find reasonable accommodations for employees that meet the criteria under this Act.  Medical documentation supporting the disability will be required.

 

Worker’s Compensation

If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, they may be eligible for Worker’s Compensation.  Current law says that in order for an employee to claim worker’s compensation for an infectious disease, the employee must demonstrate that they contracted the disease in the course and scope of their employment. In the unfortunate event that an employee contracts COVID-19 at work, a worker’s compensation claim can be filed and Pinnacol Assurance will assess the claim and determine if coverage is warranted.  See Board policy GBGD and GBGD-R for worker’s compensation policies.

 

District Authorized COVID-19 Leave

Barring any extension of the FFCRA, it was agreed during teacher negotiations that the district would authorize every district employee an additional 5 days of COVID-19 related leave.  This leave is effective January 1, 2021 through the end of the school year.  The leave can only be taken for the same reasons which qualify an employee to take EPSLA (federal leave) and it will be paid at the employee’s full rate of pay.  These leave days expire on June 30, 2021, do not accrue, and cannot be rolled over into the following school year. 

 

Sick Leave Bank

For employees who contribute to the sick leave bank, requesting leave from the bank may be an option should all other available leave options be used.  See section 29-2 of the Master Agreement and Board Policy GDBD-R for sick leave bank information.

 

Other Leave Options

  1. Temporary Leave – per section 30-7 of the Master Agreement, Teachers and SSPs may be granted temporary leaves of absence with a deduction of a per diem of one contract day of the teacher’s/SSP’s annual salary.
  2. Extended Leave of Absence – per Article 31 of the Master Agreement, extended leaves of absence can be granted without pay.
  3. Per Board policy GCCBG, administrators may be granted a leave of absence without compensation for personal reasons.
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