FAQs: Childcare, employment questions answered as parents get ready to head back to work

Back-to-work childcare questions
Back-to-work childcare questions

HOUSTON – Neha Smith is a working mother with questions as Texas begins to reopen certain businesses.

“Is it safe," she asks, and “How are we going to make it?”

These are just some of the questions working parents are asking as employers get ready to ask workers to get back to work. Sidd Rao, a partner and employment attorney at the firm Shellist Lazarz Slobin LLP, says it’s the number one topic he’s been getting calls on.

The “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” or FFCRA, that was passed on March 18, addressed several family issues related to COVID-19. It requires employers to provide up to 10 days of paid sick leave for your care or for another who has coronavirus or if you are quarantining, or if you need to care for children because their place of care or school has been closed because of coronavirus.

“That employer cannot retaliate against you or fire you for requesting that leave,” Rao said.

There is also the CARES Act that protects employees of small businesses, those with fewer than 500 employees. So millions of people who work for larger companies aren’t eligible for those protections. That’s something Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office is aware of and working on right now. We also asked Texas Health and Human Services about this, and a spokesman said:

“Based on the new Governor’s Executive Order E-18, child care operations may remain open only to serve children whose parent is considered an essential employee.”

So right now, the governor’s announcement on Monday pertaining to businesses reopening on Friday doesn’t change the requirement that parents must certify that they work in an essential industry.

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