Friday, March 12, 2021

Coronavirus Update 3-12-2021: What does the American Rescue Plan mean for employers?

Yesterday, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, aka the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill. It's the most significant economic relief bill we've seen in decades. Here are four key provisions to which employers should be paying attention.

1/ DOL Funding for COVID-19-Related Issues

The Act provides $150 million in funding to various DOL agencies, including the Wage & Hour Division and OSHA, to "carry out COVID-19-related worker protection activities" through September 2023. At least half is going to OSHA, and at least $5 million of OSHA's funding is for Covid-related investigation and enforcement. Employers need to be ready for these newly funded enforcement priorities and the audits/investigations they will spur.

2/ Extension of Unemployment Supplements

The federal unemployment supplement through the CARES Act for those who lost their jobs because of the pandemic was set to expire on March 14, 2021. This Act extends these benefits through September 6, 2021, with a $300 weekly unemployment compensation supplement in addition to any amounts paid under state law.

3/ Extension and Expansion of FFCRA Paid Sick and Family Leave

The FFCRA's paid sick leave and family leave expired on December 31, 2020. It was extended through March 31, 2021, for employers who voluntarily opted in. This Act again expands it, through September 30 by extending the payroll tax credit for employers who again opt in and voluntarily choose to provide Emergency Paid Sick Leave or Emergency Family Medical Leave. Employees of opt-in employers will receive a new bucket of FFCRA leave on April 1 and also will qualify for paid sick leave for Covid vaccination-related absences.

4/ No Minimum Wage Increase

Despite all of the talk and bluster, the Act does not include any increase to the federal minimum wage.

Finally, I have BIG news to share, but you'll have to wait until Monday. So come back then for the drop. No guessing. My lips are sealed until Monday morning.

* Image by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash