The mandatory paid leave provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) sunset on December 31, 2020.
The recent stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on December 27, 2020 did not extend the paid leave mandate. However, the new law allows employers who voluntarily continue to provide leave to claim the FFCRA tax credit for paid leave taken between January 1, 2021 and March 31, 2021. Employers who wish to offer such voluntary paid leave, and claim the tax credit, must offer the paid leave on the same terms as required under the FFCRA.
The FFCRA requires fully paid sick leave of up to 80 hours for employees who are (a) subject to a quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19, (b) advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19, (c) experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a diagnosis, (d) caring for someone that falls under (a) or (b), or (e) caring for their own child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19. The FFCRA also requires up to an additional 10 weeks of partially paid emergency family leave for an employee who is caring for their own child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19.
In general, employers who decide to offer FFCRA-like voluntary leave may only claim the tax credit for the maximum amount of leave allowed under the FFCRA. The new law does not grant additional leave for January-March of 2021. The leave must be taken for the same qualifying reasons permitted under the FFCRA. Employers must not discharge, discipline or in any way discriminate against an employee who seeks to take leave as provided for in the FFCRA in order to be eligible for the credit.
As year-end approaches, employers should decide whether they want to continue to offer FFCRA-like paid leave in the first quarter of 2021, and how they will notify their employees of this additional benefit.
For more information please contact a member of Dunn Carney’s Employment Law Team.
©2020 Dunn Carney LLP. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Dunn Carney LLP and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material.