December 22, 2020

More Questions Than Answers – Congress Ends Mandatory Paid FFCRA Leave

What happened?

Late Monday night, Congress passed its new COVID-19 relief package. The $900 Billion stimulus will assist households and businesses across the country that continue to grapple with the health and economic impact of the Coronavirus. However, the paid emergency sick leave and paid emergency family medical leave instituted by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) were not extended. The new relief package results in the following changes to paid leave:

  • Paid sick leave and paid family medical leave under the FFCRA expires on December 31, 2020
  • Beginning January 1, 2021, covered employers may voluntarily provide emergency paid leave under the FFCRA, and those who provide that leave can take the credit associated with that leave; and
  • The tax credit may only be taken for leave through March 31, 2021

Why you need to know about this?

Paid leave under the FFCRA was one of the most important aspects of the FFCRA. Unfortunately, the end of mandatory paid leave and the use of a tax credit for voluntarily providing paid leave creates more problems than it solves. The lack of guidance on voluntarily providing paid leave under the FFCRA will leave both employers and employees unsure of their rights and obligations, or how voluntary paid leave will be effectuated. This uncertainty can lead to costly mistakes as well as hindering business operations.

What should you do now?

Employers should immediately work with employment counsel to assess their rights and obligations regarding paid leave and develop a plan for 2021 addressing voluntary paid leave under the FFCRA. Employers should then enact policies to codify any voluntary paid leave program and procedures.

To get the answers to your questions, develop a voluntary paid leave program, and avoid improperly denying or granting paid leave, contact Hyland Levin Shapiro’s employment practice group.