Idaho's Stage of Reopening
Legislative Update -- FFCRA Paid Leave Now Optional
By John Ashby, HRATV Legislative Affairs Co-Chair
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) required that all public employers and certain private employers (500 or fewer employees) provide up to 80 hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave and up to 12 weeks of partially paid Expanded FMLA to employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19-related reasons. The burden of the mandatory leave under FFCRA was offset to private employers by providing a dollar-for-dollar payroll tax credit for all leave taken under FFCRA by an employee and paid by a private employer.
By its own terms, the FFCRA expired on December 31, 2020. At the Employment Law update webinar I presented in December, I predicted that the federal government would extend FFCRA leave into 2021. Well, my prediction was partially right, but partially wrong.
The new federal stimulus bill [finally] gave us some answers. The bill does not provide for an extension of FFCRA mandatory leave provisions. Thus, as of January 1, 2021, employers are no longer required to offer Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Expanded FMLA provided for under FFCRA. However, the bill does extend the payroll tax credits through March 31, 2021, if employers voluntarily continue to provide paid leave. In other words, although employers are no longer required to provide FFCRA leave after December 31, 2020, if an employer voluntarily chooses to provide FFCRA leave between January 1 and March 31, 2021, the employer can still be reimbursed for the paid leave through the tax credits. For many employers, voluntarily continuing FFCRA leave (at least the Emergency Paid Sick Leave portion) may make financial sense. We do not want sick or exposed employees coming to work, and this now-voluntary program provides a way to provide paid leave reimbursed by the government.
To be clear, the new stimulus bill does not increase the total number of hours of leave that may be taken by an employee, nor does it increase the total amount of tax credit available for any single employee. For example, if, as of December 31, 2020, an employee has already used 70 hours out of the 80 hours of available Emergency Paid Sick Leave under FFCRA and the employer chooses to extend the leave after December 31, 2020, the employee will only be eligible for 10 hours through March 31, 2021, and the employer will only be able to receive 10 hours worth of tax credit.
The stimulus bill does not address all details of this now-voluntary program, and I assume the Department of Labor and IRS will issue further guidance.
The HRATV board has made the following decisions regarding our upcoming events:
2021 MONTHLY PROGRAMS: The monthly Professional Development and Networking Programs will be virtual through June 2021.
ANNUAL CONFERENCE: We will be virtual on April 8-9, 2021. Learn more here.
BOOK CLUB: The HRATV Book Club is meeting virtually. Learn more here.
MENTORING MEETINGS: Postponed until further notice.
CERTIFICATION STUDY GROUP: Connect with your peers, share your knowledge, and take advantage of discounted SHRM study materials. The Certification Study Group will begin meeting in February. The Spring 2021 SHRM Certification testing window is May 1 - July 15, 2021, and exam applications are currently being accepted, early bird rates go through 03/19/21.
A survey will go out in January to those interested in the study group to select days and times to meet and study over a 12-week period. Reach out to be added to the Spring Study Group list. To be added to the list, contact Emily Li, Co-Certification Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org today!
HRATV Members Discussion Forum --Communicate with other HRATV Members here.
Statutory and Paid Family Leave Plan Updates
Individual Medical Insurance
NOTE: These links are not endorsed by HRATV but merely a resource in these uncertain times.