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Parents struggling with childcare may take up to 12 weeks of paid leave

Under the CARES Act expansion, parents can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act through the end of 2020.

SEATTLE — Many parents struggle between balancing work and childcare, but some parents might not realize they could be eligible for paid leave under the CARES Act expansion for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Karin Jones is a Stoel Rives partner who works in the labor and employment group. She said workers who've faced changes in their childcare can take leave. That could be because their child's school is continuing with remote learning, their daycare closed, or another caretaker is no longer available.

Employers with fewer than 500 workers are obligated to provide expanded coverage. However, smaller businesses with fewer than 50 workers can opt-out. Also, some medical providers can opt-out, like employers of first responders or even pharmacies.

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Jones said it is still worth considering, even if an adult is struggling to work from home.

"If you're having difficulty with teleworking, and it's really hard or impossible to do your job while looking after little kids, you're absolutely entitled to ask for this leave," explained Jones. "So, it's an important point to keep in mind. It's not just for those who can only physically do their job at the office or the store."

Click here to listen to the full interview on the extended FMLA.

Parents can also take the leave intermittently if their employers allow. Jones said a person will get two-thirds of their pay, or a max of $200 a day, and businesses will get a payroll tax credit for any amount they pay.

There is a chance if FMLA gets expanded again in 2021, and a worker could take more leave. If that happens, employees would need to see if their employers count the time off into a calendar year or a rolling year. A calendar year would mean that a person could likely take leave again.

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