Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Biden calls for extension and expansion of FFCRA

As you should hopefully be aware, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the federal law that provided paid leave to employees for Covid-related absences, expired on December 31, 2020, with an option for employers to voluntarily expand leave through March 31, 2021. The problem, however, is that while this leave has expired or will soon expire, COVID-19 is not expiring any time soon.

Help, however, may soon be on the way, as part of President-elect Biden's America Rescue Plan. A key part of that plan is a significant expansion of the FFCRA.

What would change?
  • The FFCRA would be reinstated and extended through September 30, 2021.
  • The 500-employee cap on coverage would be lifted, and all employers, regardless of size, would be required to provide paid leave for covered Covid-related absences.
  • The exemptions for health care workers, first responders, and small employers would be eliminated.
  • The total leave entitlement would be expanded to 14 weeks.
  • Employers with less than 500 employees would be reimbursed for this paid leave through an extension of the already existing payroll tax credit. Employers with 500 or more employees would not receive the tax credit.
I applaud this expansion, which is sorely needed as we navigate this virus until we reach a vaccination critical mass. I also hope it is a step toward more broad-based paid sick and family leave for employees, an issue on which this country sadly lags behind every other industrialized nation in the world.

* Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash