Employer obligations to provide sick leave and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expired on 12/31/2020. However, under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, employers may claim their dollar-for-dollar tax credit through March 31, 2021, if they continue to voluntarily provide eligible employees with leave under FFCRA.
This does not appear to be additional leave. Although the law is not quite as clear on the emergency family leave portion, it is clear that this is not additional leave for emergency sick leave. In other words, sick leave is only available for employees who have not exhausted the sick leave portion of FFCRA in 2020.
This is *not an opt-in program* – it works the same way it did last year, with employers claiming the tax credit upon provision of the leave.
As this unrelenting pandemic continues into the new year, employers need to consider a variety of factors to determine whether or not to ‘opt in’ to the now-voluntary leave provision, including the financial strain on the business, staff shortage, and employers’ general duty to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Employers who wish to dispense with FFCRA leave altogether must still allow eligible employees who maintain a balance to draw on Oregon Sick Leave. In this current pandemic, qualifying reasons have expanded to include public health emergencies.
Whatever path an employer chooses, it’s critical to advise employees of any change to leave policies. And lastly, as this pandemic progresses and we prepare for a new administration, employers should be prepared to see a material change in leave benefit requirements generally, whether at the state or federal level.
Let me know if you would like more information or would like help reviewing your leave policies.