The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) went into effect on April 1, 2020. It requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide protected, paid sick leave for employees who miss work for certain COVID-related reasons. While the paid leave initially comes out of employers’ pockets, employers can receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for any such payments, meaning that FFCRA benefits are ultimately a government expense.
The FFCRA was set to expire after December 31, 2020; however, many thought that it would be extended as part of latest stimulus package signed into law on December 27th. That turned out to be partly true. Beginning January 1, 2021, employers are no longer required to provide protected, paid leave under the FFCRA; however, those who choose to do so voluntarily will still receive the tax credit through March 31, 2021.
The takeaway here is that employers who have the flexibility and liquidity to continue providing FFCRA paid leave may continue to do so, with little to no out-of-pocket costs; however, FFCRA leave is no longer mandatory. Be mindful, however, that unpaid leave under the ADA or FMLA may still be required, depending on the circumstances, but the rules in that regard are no different than they were pre-COVID.