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FFCRA Benefits and the New Relief Bill

On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the most recent COVID-19 Relief Bill—reflecting a series of bipartisan compromises tacked onto an omnibus appropriations bill.  As discussed in a prior Client Alert, Congress established expanded employee benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) in the form of Expanded FMLA (“EFMLA”) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave (“EPSL”).  The FFCRA also contained offsetting tax credits for employers.  This Client Alert addresses the impact of the Relief Bill on those provisions of the FFCRA.

Under the FFCRA, the mandate to provide expanded employee benefits and the corresponding employer tax credits were set to expire on December 31, 2020.  The new Relief Bill extends employer tax credits for both EPSL and EFMLA until March 31, 2021, but does not extend the mandate to provide such benefits.  Therefore, an employer’s obligation to provide EPSL or EFMLA under the FFCRA ends on December 31, 2020. 

The Department of Labor has not issued guidance yet, but it appears that, although under no obligation to do so, if an employer voluntarily provides EPSL or EFMLA to a qualifying employee (i.e. for an eligible reason and the employee hasn’t used up all available leave) after December 31, 2020, the employer will be able to claim a tax credit for the leave through March 31, 2021. 

As FFCRA benefits are expiring many local jurisdictions are enacting leave entitlement laws to replace the expiring FFCRA benefits.  Pittsburgh, for example, recently mandated Temporary COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave.  Further, depending on the circumstances of the leave, an employee may otherwise be entitled to regular FMLA once FFCRA benefits expire.  Thus, even though the entitlement to FFCRA leave is expiring, employees may otherwise be entitled to remain on leave under the FMLA or pursuant to other federal, state, or local law. 

Please contact a MacDonald Illig attorney if you have any questions about FFCRA benefits or tax credits, or whether any other federal, state, or local laws apply to an employee’s leave. 

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