The emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) and emergency family and medical leave (EFMLA) created under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) are set to end on December 31, 2020. Although Congress continues to work on passing another COVID-19 relief bill, currently there is no provision in any bill to extend the EPSL or the EFMLA. This means that employers may stop providing these leaves beginning January 1, 2021, and employers will not receive any tax breaks for providing these paid leaves beyond December 31, 2020. It is still possible Congress could extend these leaves beyond the December end date. Should that occur, we’ll update our members.
Tips: As we previously reported, California passed a statewide supplemental paid sick leave law as well as supplemental paid sick leave for food sector workers, to fill some of the gaps in FFCRA coverage, particularly for employers with 500 or more employees. These state laws are set to expire on December 31, 2020, but unlike the FFCRA, if an employee is taking one of these California supplemental paid sick leaves at the end of the year, they’re entitled to the full amount of leave even if it extends into 2021. Some local jurisdictions in California that passed their own supplemental paid sick leave programs are extending their leaves further into 2021. These changes are occurring rapidly, so be sure to check the status of any local supplemental paid sick leave programs that may apply.
For FFCRA-covered employers in all states, you’ll need to rescind your FFCRA policy and any associated leave request forms effective January 1, remove the FFCRA poster, and communicate to employees these paid leaves will end on December 31. You should also plan how to handle employees’ needs for COVID-related leave in 2021, because even though the FFCRA leaves may end, your employees may still need time off. You may voluntarily provide your employees with other paid or unpaid leave benefits similar in amount and qualifications as the FFCRA paid leaves. However, it’s important to track any such company-provided leave separately and not count them against available balances under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) unless the time actually qualifies as FMLA leave (such as an employee being unable to work due to a serious health condition). Communicate any additional leave availability to your employees in writing. If you need further FFCRA assistance, contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.