PHOENIX (3 On Your Side) - As several schools across Arizona return to virtual learning, parents are scrambling to figure out child care. While some people are still working from home and can make it work, many others have jobs that cannot be done remotely.

So, if you have to call out of work for an extended period, what happens?

Josh Black, an attorney specializing in employment issues, says if your kid's school is closed because of COVID, your job might be protected through the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act that lawmakers passed earlier this year.

"If you're having to stay home to care for a child because either the child care center is closed or the school is closed, then that is something that would qualify, and you'd be protected to take leave under the emergency FMLA up to 12 weeks this year," Black explained.

Unlike regular FMLA, the emergency expansion includes a paycheck, Black said. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, small businesses will receive tax credits to defray the cost of the extra benefits.

"An employer does, in fact, have to pay you for a certain part of that time, and it depends on your job," Black said. "It depends on what leave you've already used, but is specifically leave available pay that was not available prior to the pandemic."

Lawmakers also passed the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, which provides up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for some employees. This can also be used if a school or day care is closed, according to the Department of Labor.


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