Q: We have an employee who had a terrible reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. Our District passed a resolution back in January extending FFCRA leave through the end of the school year. Is the employee eligible for the District’s FFCRA leave due to her reaction to the vaccine?
A: Probably not. If the District’s resolution extending FFCRA provided extension for the eligibility reasons in place at the time of the FFCRA’s expiration in December of 2020, vaccine complications would not qualify.
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which expired December 31, 2020, an employee qualified for leave if they were unable to work because they were: (1) subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; (2) advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; (3) experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and were seeking a medical diagnosis; (4) caring for an individual subject to a quarantine order or advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine; (5) caring for a child whose school or place of care was closed for reasons related to COVID-19; or (6) experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Many districts passed resolutions continuing FFCRA through conclusion of the 2020-2021 school year. In circumstances where the school district’s resolution extended FFCRA without revision, thereby adopting verbatim the above six eligibility qualifiers, a vaccine reaction or complication would not qualify for district extended FFCRA leave, as it would not fit within any one of the reasons above.
Importantly, however, if the District’s resolution extending FFCRA contained qualifying language other than or in addition to the qualifying conditions granted within the statute, the District should carefully review the resolution with counsel for a determination of application to the employee’s situation. Of course, in all instances, an employee may also be eligible for other types of leave, such as traditional Family Medical Leave, temporary disability and/or state and local leave.
For specific questions or additional information regarding district extended FFCRA provisions, please consult with your local school law attorney.