FFCRA, We Hardly Knew Thee: Federal (and State) Paid COVID-19 Leave Laws Expire at Year’s End

Written by Jeremy Mittman and Stephen C. Franz

On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act as a follow-up to the April 2020 Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).  While President Trump has not yet signed the approximately $900 Billion measure, the new bill contains at least one provision that will be of particular interest to employers.

Significantly, the new bill ends the FFCRA’s mandatory emergency paid leave provisions as of January 1, 2021.  Among other things, the FFCRA requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide emergency paid family medical leave and paid sick leave to employees for certain COVID-19-related reasons.  To assist with the cost of this new emergency paid leave requirement, these employers are eligible for tax credits under the FFCRA– the tax credit for paid sick leave is up to $511 per employee per day and for paid family leave, up to $200 per employee per day (or up to $10,000 per employee in the aggregate).

The new bill extends the FFCRA’s employer tax credits until March 21, 2021.  However, it does not extend the FFCRA’s requirement to provide paid family medical leave and paid sick leave to employees, which expires December 31, 2020.  In effect, employers who opt to continue providing paid COVID-19 leave under the FFCRA in 2021 may continue to receive these tax credits, but employers will no longer be required by federal law to provide paid COVID-19 leave after January 1, 2021.

California and Los Angeles County COVID-19 Leave Laws Also Expire

For California employers, the end of the FFCRA’s emergency paid leave mandates on December 31, 2020 coincides with termination of several California laws providing for paid COVID-19 leave.  California’s supplemental paid sick leave law, explicitly designed to “fill the gaps” of the FFCRA by requiring that employers with more than 500 employees provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave, also expires on December 31, 2020.  Similarly, the Los Angeles County Worker Protection Ordinance (also designed to “fill the gaps” of the FFCRA by mandating paid COVID-19 leave for workers with more than 500 employees), also expires on December 31, 2020.  However, other local ordinances mandating certain employers provide paid COVID-19 leave, like the City of Los Angeles’ Emergency Ordinance, do not have a hard end-date and will continue into 2021.

MSK is following this issue closely and will provide updates if there are any further developments. In the meanwhile, please do not hesitate to reach out to your trusted MSK contact with any questions.

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