THIS BILL PROVIDES ECONOMIC RELIEF IN RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC BUT IT DOES NOT EXTEND THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (FFCRA).
President Trump signed a bill into law on December 27, 2020, averting a government shutdown and extending billions of dollars in coronavirus aid to millions. Here is a summary of some of the major workplace provisions of the bill:
- Unemployment benefits for millions of jobless gig-workers and independent contractors as well as long-term unemployed are extended. The unemployment benefits which were scheduled to end this weekend will be extended another 11 weeks.
- Those collecting jobless payments will receive a $300 weekly federal boost through mid-March 2021.
- The FFCRA paid sick and family leave obligations are still due to expire at the end of 2020, however, the refundable employer payroll tax credit for paid sick and family leave was extended through March 2021. This means that although employers are no longer required to offer a paid sick leave, they can obtain tax credits for FFCRA through March 31, 2021.
- In addition, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 which provided a federal tax credit for employers that provide paid family and medical leave to their employees was extended through December 31, 2025.
- An additional $284 billion is allocated for the PPP and eligibility expanded to include nonprofits.
- Unused health and dependent care flexible spending amounts can be rolled over from 2020 to 2021 and from 2021 to 2022.
- Employers can provide student loan repayment as a benefit to employees through December 31, 2025.
- Employers need to decide if they will voluntarily extend FFCRA in 2021. They should be prepared to update their policies and inform their employees of these changes.
- Employers should be communicating with employees who are on leave and provide clarification on what the expectations are about returning to work.
- If an employee has already used 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave (EPSL), they would not be eligible for an additional 80 hours in 2021. However, if the FMLA 12- month period resets under the employer’s policy, it seems apparent that an employee would be eligible for FMLA once again. The Department of Labor or IRS may provide us additional guidance on this at a later date.
- Be sure and check your state for additional COVID leave laws. Many states and some municipalities have enacted or amended paid sick leave laws to account for time off due to COVID-19. Check your state workforce website for recent updates.
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