Ask the BPHR Advisor: Will the FFCRA leave be extended?

Ask the BPHR Advisor: Will the FFCRA leave be extended? 2560 1707 Balance Point Team

Updated 12/28/20

BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides answers to your pressing HR questions.

Question: I heard rumblings that the FFCRA leave would be extended beyond December 31, 2020. Did that happen?

Answer: The FFCRA (or Families First Coronavirus Relief Act) was signed into law on March 18, 2020 providing the American workforce with emergency paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for COVID-related absences. The Act took effect on April 1st and was set to expire on New Year’s Eve. You can read more about it here.

As the deadline grew near, there was speculation that Congress will push out its expiration date. And it seemed probable when the new government funding and pandemic aid package was announced on December 20th. However, vague language included in the supporting press release cast doubt.

The bill was passed by Congress the next day, and signed by President Trump on December 27th. The bill confirms that the FFCRA leave mandate will expire on the 31st and employers will no longer be required to provide paid leave. It states, however, that if covered employers voluntarily provide these leave benefits through March 31, 2021, they will be eligible to take the tax credit for the leave.

Key points from the bill:
  • Mandated FFCRA Leave ends as planned on December 31, 2020
  • After December 31, 2020, covered employers may voluntarily provide emergency paid sick leave or emergency paid family and medical leave under FFCRA and take the corresponding tax credit associated with this leave
  • The tax credit may only be taken for leave through March 31, 2021

This naturally leads to the question: “Will employees be eligible for an entirely new bucket of FFCRA leave on January 1st?”

The answer to that is no. If an employee used 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave (EPSLA) earlier this year, another EPSLA bucket would not be available to them on January 1, 2021. Therefore, the employer cannot claim the tax credit for additional EPSLA provided in 2021.

We’ll be keeping an eye on any future updates and will keep you informed as it is reported.

 

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