Is it OK to get paid to work from home while you are keeping an eye on the kids? Employer rules vary. Florida State University has amended its policy, saying employees while on the clock at home can’t also be caring for their children.
Marketplace’s Erika Beras looked into this. The following is an edited transcript of her conversation with “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio.
Erika Beras: Let’s start back in March. That’s when stay-at-home orders were issued and employees began remote work. Before that, Florida State University had a policy where if you were working from home, you couldn’t also be watching your kids. But that all went out the window earlier this year when schools and day care and pretty much everything else shuttered. The school issued a temporary remote work agreement.
Fast forward to now as Florida State prepares the next stage of reopening. FSU employees won’t be allowed to watch their kids while working because public schools in the county are scheduled to open. If an employee doesn’t abide, the university can rescind approval for remote work.
David Brancaccio: Which will put some employees, presumably, in a bind.
Beras: The school did issue a statement to employees saying if local schools scale back, the university may reconsider its policies. And Florida has seen a spike in cases. Because of that, the university isn’t moving forward as quickly as it had planned in moving on to the next phase of opening next week.
But what this could mean is that institutions may not be as flexible as they had been at the beginning of the pandemic when it comes to accommodating their employees. In a lot of ways, we are having multiple crises right now. There’s the pandemic, but within that, a crisis of child care. I did a story about this last week, and all of the experts I spoke with mentioned a couple of things: One is that without child care women will lose a lot of the gains they’ve made in the past few decades. And, the economy just doesn’t work without day care, camps, schools and after-school care.
Will the federal government extend the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?
It’s still unclear. Congress and President Donald Trump are deciding whether to extend the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits workers are getting because of the pandemic. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia believes the program should not be extended, and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the additional money is disincentivizing some workers from returning to their jobs. Democrats want to keep providing the money until January.
As states lift restrictions, are people going back to stores and restaurants?
States have relaxed their restrictions, and many of us have relaxed, too. Some people have started to make exceptions for visiting restaurants, if only for outdoor dining. Some are only going to places they trust are being extra cautious. But no one we’ve talked to has really gone back to normal. People just aren’t quite there yet.
Will surges in COVID-19 cases mean a return to lockdowns?
In many areas where businesses are reopening, cases of COVID-19 are trending upwards, causing some to ask if the lockdowns were lifted too soon, and if residents and businesses might have to go through it all again. So, how likely is another lockdown, of some sort? The answer depends on who you ask. Many local officials are now bullish about keeping businesses open to salvage their economies. Health experts, though, are concerned.
You can find answers to more questions here.
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