The latest federal stimulus legislation does not extend the paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which expired December 31.
The final legislation did, however, extend the tax credit for both the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave under the FFCRA until March 31, 2021.
This means employers are not required to provide paid leave under the FFCRA after December 31, 2020. Employers voluntarily choosing to continue with leave, assuming the employee still has eligible leave remaining, will be able to obtain a tax credit for payments until the end of March.
In addition, depending on the circumstances of an employee’s leave, it is possible that the employee could be entitled to normal unpaid leave under the FMLA even after the FFCRA expires, if they still have weeks available under the FMLA. You should work with counsel to determine whether any employees out on FFCRA leave may be entitled to regular FMLA unpaid leave after the end of the year.
Moreover, employers should pay close attention to developments in Congress after the new year. There is already talk about a larger stimulus package after Congress returns and President-elect Biden is inaugurated. Congress could very well pass legislation early this month that extends, or even expands, the paid leave requirements of the FFCRA, and requirements be retroactive to the expiration of the prior law.
Employers additionally need to be aware of state and local laws passed in recent months that require the payment of sick leave to employees for a variety of COVID-19-related reasons. Some local laws expired at the end of 2020, some are tied to the expiration of the FFCRA, and some do not expire.
State and local lawmakers also may extend these paid sick leave requirements into the future. Employers should work closely with counsel to determine any applicable state and local mandates and continue to monitor developments on this front into 2021.