Question: One of our employees is experiencing side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccination. We have fewer than 500 employees and we’re pursuing the voluntary tax credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Is this employee eligible for paid leave under FFCRA for the time she can’t work?
Answer: Yes, as of April 1, 2021, she may be eligible for emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) or emergency family and medical leave (EFML) under the FFCRA for the time she needs to take off to recover from side effects of the vaccine. As we previously reported, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) again extended the optional FFCRA tax credits through September 30, 2021. As with the first extension, covered employers (those with fewer than 500 employees) may still provide paid leave on a voluntary basis. This extension provided employees with a fresh “bank” of 10 days of EPSL, expanded the reasons for EFML beyond school and day care closures, and added two additional reasons an employee may take paid leave. Employees may now take paid time off to get a vaccine and paid time off to recover from side effects of the vaccine, in addition to the previously covered reasons for paid leave.
The IRS has indicated in their FAQs that employers may require written support for an employee’s request for paid leave and also that employers are allowed to require additional information from employees. So, for example, you could request proof of vaccination from employees who request time off to get vaccinated, or for employees like yours who need time off to recover from side effects. We’ve updated our Model Policy, Families First Coronavirus Response Act Policy, and our Model Form, Families First Coronavirus Response Act Leave Request Form, to include the new reasons for leave. ARPA directed the IRS to issue regulations or guidance on these changes and we will report on the guidance when it is released.