The following information supersedes any previous guidance about leaves of absence during the pandemic. There is more general information on leaves available on our Paid Time Off page.
These are normally given to people with a disability who need reasonable workplace accommodations that can be provided to such employees using the interactive process required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines have now added that members who have a medical condition that is considered at high risk for COVID-19 by CDC standards can also apply for an ADA reasonable workplace accommodation. Members can request accommodations (such as teleworking or other modifications to the workplace) and that request will be evaluated and considered and a determination will be made. Medical documentation is required.
ADA applies only to employees with disabilities or who have medical, cognitive or psychological limitations. In addition, employees who live with high-risk family members can apply for a workplace accommodation. If a member is asking for workplace accommodations for a parent that is at risk they need to show proof of residency. They do not need to submit medical documentation for someone else’s illness. The application will also be considered and a determination will be made.
Forms to Apply for ADA Accommodation
Fourth quarter 2021 accommodations and vaccination
You should not respond to the CPS vaccination survey if you believe your response to it will result in and CPS revoking your telework accommodation prior to the beginning of the fourth quarter, in violation of your rights under the “MOA” (officially, the “Memorandum of Agreement on the Resumption of In-person Instruction”).
CPS sent an email to members around March 20, 2021 stating, “If we do not receive your vaccination status, or the ADA Recertification Form due to a medical or religious exemption by March 24th, our office will end your ADA accommodation and convert your telework status to in-person work effective April 16 [which is the first working day of the fourth quarter for employees].” This reverses their earlier stance that they would violate the MOA by forcing revoking telework assignments before the beginning of the fourth quarter.
There are good public health and policy reasons for an employer — particularly a large school district — to know the vaccination status of employees during a pandemic. And as a general matter, it is legal for employers, including CPS, to require employees to disclose their vaccination status. However, revoking proper accommodations covered by a legally binding agreement is not a valid reason to require notice of vaccination, so we will keep enforcing your rights.
Here’s what’s happening for fourth quarter:
- If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons or have some other continuing need for an accommodation (such as a high-risk household member who cannot be vaccinated), you should complete and submit the accommodation recertification form.
- Taking away your current accommodation prior to the end of the 3rd quarter would be a violation of our agreement. If you have been granted a remote work accommodation and receive a directive to report for in-person work before the end of the quarter, please immediately contact your CTU Field Representative.
- Although employers are allowed to reevaluate ADA and other accommodations based on needs (such as the number of students returning to in-person schooling), our negotiated agreement helps protect us. It clearly states “Accommodations and leave requests for the fourth academic quarter shall not be unreasonably denied.” If you have reason for a continued remote work accommodation due to your high-risk status or that of a household member and are unfairly denied the request, please bring the matter to your school Safety Committee and contact your Field Representative.
- Be aware that if you have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and your telework accommodation was based on having a Covid-19 high-risk condition, you likely will not qualify to have a your accommodation recertified for the 4th quarter.
- If you do not respond to CPS’s vaccination status survey or submit your ADA accommodation recertification form to CPS by March 24, CPS will likely end your accommodation and direct you to return to in-person work effective at the beginning of the 4th quarter. CPS is likely within its legal rights to do this, however, it would be a violation of the agreement to change your telework status before that time.
April 6 Update
We have continued to insist that members deserve accommodations to support family situations. This doesn’t only include the obvious situations in which a household member is at high medical risk. CTU members are parents, too. The pandemic is still creating child care issues and other crucial situations where a member may be forced to choose between work and safety. Members who have applied for accommodations should hear from CPS soon, if they haven’t already. If you do not get a reply to your accommodation this week, you should contact your field rep. CPS has confirmed that pregnant and nursing members who requested accommodations should be receiving approval, but CPS is indicating reticence around other circumstances.
April 22 Update
The Union is aware that CPS has again sent out a survey to employees directing them to report their vaccination status. As we’ve said before, there are good public health and policy reasons for an employer — particularly a large school district — to know the vaccination status of its employees during a pandemic. And as a general matter, it is legal for employers, including CPS, to require employees to disclose their vaccination status.
When CPS first directed employees to report their vaccination status in late February and early March, the CTU demanded bargaining over the change in the terms and conditions of employment. During those bargaining sessions, CPS refused to agree that it would not use the survey responses to revoke members’ accommodations that had been granted through the end of the 3rd Quarter prior to the end of the quarter, in violation of our MOA. Consequently, the CTU recommended that CTU members wait to complete the survey if they believed it could negatively impact any accommodations they had been granted.
That is no longer a concern, because approval for telework accommodations or job-protected unpaid leave with benefits for the 4th Quarter requires that an employee disclose their vaccination status. Consequently, the CTU recommends that members complete the vaccination status survey.
If you are currently being treated for a serious health condition, you may apply for short-term disability. The threshold and qualifications for the Short-Term Disability benefit have not changed. Refer to the Paid Time Off page for further details.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
This provides a two-week leave to find care for a child because a daycare or school is closed. It has a $200 per day pay cap.
Public Health Emergency Leave
Members that cannot attend school or teach remote learning due to lack of available child care can get a 12-week leave through the Public Health Emergency Leave. This leave has a $200 per day pay cap. An intermittent leave is also available if your child’s schedule will allow you to teach on certain days. Proof of documentation is needed to show your child’s care has been suspended. Please note that the time taken on this leave counts towards FMLA. If you use the full 12 weeks, you will not be eligible for another FMLA leave for one full year. This twelve-week leave cannot be extended.
A two-week paid leave will be provided to anyone that has been exposed to COVID and ordered to self-quarantine. Medical documentation is required.
Emergency Paid Leave
Expectant mothers that are asked to self-quarantine before their expected due date will be given two weeks of leave under this Emergency Paid Leave with a salary cap of $511 per day. Any additional time needed before the birth will be unpaid. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave may only be taken once in each year and will end, due to current legislation, on December 31, 2020.
If you have a sick family member that needs your care, you should apply for the standard FMLA leave. This provides you a five-month leave. This is an unpaid leave. Benefit days are applied to receive pay. Medical documentation is required.
If you do not meet the qualifications for other leave options, but still feel the need for a continuous leave of absence, you can apply for a discretionary leave. This is an unpaid leave and it does not provide job protection.