Please note: This blog is current to the date of its publication, Friday, April 16. For additional updates or assistance navigating these uncertain times, please contact us or visit our SST COVID-19 resource page.
The employer requirement to offer paid employee sick and family leave under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) ended on Dec. 31, 2020. However, employers that voluntarily offered FFCRA-like leave options between Jan. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021, are eligible for tax credits under the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 further extends these tax credits through Sept. 30, 2021, to employers who voluntarily offered FFCRA-like leave.
The Act does not allow employers to discriminate based on an employee’s longevity with the company, compensation or employment status (part vs. full-time). Leave must be offered uniformly to all employees to obtain the tax credit.
Employee sick leave changes include:
- The ARPA resets the limit for qualifying sick leave taken between April 1, 2021, and Sept. 30, 2021, allowing 10 days or 80 hours
- If an employee previously used or exhausted their paid sick leave under the FFCRA, they now have another 10 days or 80 hours available for use effective April 1, 2021.
- The Act also adds new reasons for which employees may take paid sick leave, including:
- Time spent awaiting the results of a test to diagnose COVID-19
- Obtaining an immunization for COVID-19
- Recovering from any adverse health effects arising from COVID-19 immunization
Emergency family and medical leave changes include:
- The ARPA increases the wage limit for paid family leave payments from $10,000 per employee to $12,000 per employee
- The first two weeks of emergency family and medical leave may now be paid at two-thirds of the regular rate (subject to the above limits) and are eligible for the tax credit
- Qualified employees are eligible for 12 weeks of paid leave (if they have not previously used emergency family and medical leave)
- The ARPA expands qualifying reasons for emergency family and medical leave from just employees caring for children whose schools or place of care was closed, or whose care provider was unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, to include any of the qualifying reasons under the employee sick leave guidelines, as well.
Additionally, the ARPA provides that employers cannot “double dip” by taking credit for payroll costs that have been subject to PPP loan forgiveness.
As of the publication of this blog post, the U.S. Department of Labor has not updated its FAQs to include these changes to FFCRA paid leave under the ARPA, but SST will continue to share updates on our COVID-19 resource page.
Special thanks to Malisia Vrana, SST’s Payroll and Benefits Supervisor, for providing the content of this post.