Snow Day School Closures in 2020

Due to snow conditions for many of our members, last-minute school closures will have many working parents scrambling to figure out how to care for their children. Some may call in to their employer to request the day off. In a “normal” year, handling such an employee request is relatively simple and would be subject to usual employer policies. In 2020, this may not be so clear with many employees remote working, and their children are attending school in a variety of formats (in-person, online-only, hybrid). On top of everything, there are mandated paid leaves granted to employees for specific reasons related to COVID-19 by the FFCRA (Families First Coronavirus Response Act) and in Colorado under the HFWA (Health Families and Workplaces Act).

Through 12/31/20, the FFCRA applies to employers with under 500 employees and provides a specified amount of paid sick leave to employees who must stay home to care for a child due to school closure and childcare closure when that closure is directly related to COVID-19. If a school closes due to other reasons, such as weather conditions or a plumbing problem, the FFCRA does not apply. Bottom line: a “snow day” for the child does not constitute a paid day of leave for their parents under the FFCRA.

Colorado employers of all sizes are covered by the HFWA, and it requires employers (even those with 500 or more employees) to provide paid leave coverage through 12/31/20. The reasons for those closures mirror those of the FFCRA; in other words, for specified reasons directly related to a public health emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Winter weather is here, so employers in snowy regions must review inclement weather policies and practices and perhaps remind employees of their responsibilities around those practices.

For more guidance or assistance with drafting policies, contact us.

Additional resources:

Office closure and pay considerations

Inclement weather planning

Colorado employers: HFWA

School closures due to COVID-19

Tips to support working parents

School openings and parental paid leave rights