The new COVID-19 stimulus package does not include an employer requirement to extend the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) paid leave benefit. However, it allows employers to voluntarily opt to continue the benefit and still receive the FFCRA tax credits through March 31st.
[Here is the link to a summary of the COVID-19 relief provisions with only 29 pages: Summary of COVID-19 Provisions] [Here is the link to the entire text (2124 pages) of the related legislation: Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021]
[If you need a refresher about the FFCRA paid leave in general, visit the DOL: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave]
Employers now need to decide (now) whether to continue offering this paid leave in 2021. The tax credit is only for eligible employers (less than 500) and employees who have not maxed out the benefits already.
You may consider factors such as the organization’s financial hardship, administrative feasibility, potential staff shortages, employees’ telework capabilities, and virus exposure concerns regarding employers’ general duty to limit COVID-19 in the workplace.
Another factor for consideration is whether an employee may fare better by filing for unemployment with the added $300 weekly benefit for 11 weeks.
Regardless of what you decide, don’t forget to claim your 2020 FFCRA credits, too. You have until March 31, 2021.
[Here is an IRS resource on FAQs on how to claim your credit: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/how-to-claim-the-credits]
Stay tuned, because as we have learned this year, everything is subject to change. Wishing a great new year for us all!