On December 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed a bill that provided additional government funding and continued pandemic economic relief. The bill included an expansion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and an extension to the refundable employer payroll tax credit for paid sick and family leave through March 2021, but it did not extend the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
As of January 1, 2021, employers are no longer required to provide employees with FFCRA; however, according to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, they may continue to receive tax credits for voluntarily providing paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to employees through March 31, 2021. What this Act did not extend is an eligible employee’s entitlement to receive such benefits past December 31, 2020.
What this means to you
If an employer currently has employees on FFCRA leave, they should begin communicating with those employees to discuss whether their company will voluntarily extend FFCRA benefits through 2021, or if their leave will be converted to an unpaid Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. Employers should also take care to not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if an employee has lingering effects of COVID-19, which is the case with many long-haulers.
FFCRA mandates may not have been extended, but employers are obligated to pay an employee for any FFCRA leave taken during the law’s effective dates (April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020). Employees have 2 years to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division (WHO) of the Department of Labor for any alleged violation. Lastly, employers also need to continue to take any necessary precautions and follow CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in order to provide a safe and sanitary workplace.
How to prepare
Employers need to create a plan for dealing with COVID-19 related employee leave and, if needed, adjust leave policies and procedures to ensure compliance with federal and state labor laws and regulations.
If you need assistance with adjusting your private leave policies and procedures, or with maintaining compliance with new laws and regulations, we are happy to help. Contact us for a free consultation.