As we previously blogged, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) obligated certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and/or paid FMLA leave due to COVID-19. When these obligations expired December 31, 2020, employers who opted to voluntarily offer paid FFCRA leave could still receive tax credits that fully reimbursed them. However, these tax credits were previously only available through March 31, 2021.
“The American Rescue Plan” – which was signed into law last week – made several important changes to the FFCRA.
- While the mandatory paid leave provisions of the FFCRA have not been extended past December 31, 2021, the availability of tax credits for voluntarily provided paid leave has been extended from March 31, 2021 to September 30, 2021.
- The amount of emergency paid sick leave under the FFCRA for each employee with reset on April 1, 2021. This means that employers who choose to offer paid FFCRA leave can be reimbursed for 80 hours of paid leave per employee, even if that employee previously exhausted their paid FFCRA leave.
- The qualifying reasons for FFCRA leave have been expanded to include:
(1) employees who request leave to get a COVID-19 vaccine;
(2) employees who request leave because they are experiencing side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine; and
(3) employees who have either been exposed to COVID-19, or have been instructed to take a COVID-19 test, and are seeking or awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.
- Employers who voluntarily offer paid emergency FMLA leave under the FFCRA may now receive tax credits up to 12 weeks, and the total cap for emergency paid FMLA leave has been increased from $10,000 to $12,000.
- Employers who choose to offer paid emergency FMLA benefits may now offer them for all of the reasons an employee can take emergency paid sick leave. Under the original version of the FFCRA, emergency FMLA was only available for school or childcare issues.