The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which requires that employers with fewer than 500 employees provide sick and family leave benefits for certain COVID-19 related reasons, is due to sunset on December 31, 2020. Many believed that the FFCRA’s sick and family leave provisions would be extended into 2021 as part of the pandemic relief package that was signed by the President on December 27. However, these provisions were ultimately not extended, meaning that employers will not be required to provide paid leave under the FFCRA after December 31, 2020.

Despite that the FFCRA’s leave provisions were not extended into 2021, the relief package extends the FFCRA tax credit, which reimburses employers for the cost of providing FFCRA leave, through March 31, 2021. As a result, beginning on January 1, 2021, employers are no longer required to provide FFCRA leave; however, covered employers who voluntarily offer such leave may utilize payroll tax credits to cover the cost of benefits paid to employees through the end of March. The relief package does not change the qualifying reasons for which employees may take leave, the caps on the amount of pay employees are entitled to receive, or the FFCRA’s documentation requirements.

The law also does not change the amount of leave that employees are entitled to take under the FFCRA. Under the FFCRA, full time employees are entitled to a one-time allotment of 80 hours of paid sick leave and 12 weeks of expanded family medical leave. Therefore, an employer is not entitled to a second tax credit for an employee taking leave in 2021, when that employee already took leave in 2020. However, if an employer allows an employee to take a second period of expanded FMLA leave because the employer’s calendar year has reset – for example, because the employer uses the “calendar year” under its FMLA policy – the employer may be able to claim a tax credit for the second round of expanded FMLA benefits paid to the employee in 2021. We are closely monitoring guidance on the FFCRA and will continue to provide updates if additional guidance on this point is made available.

Despite that employers are no longer required to provide FFCRA leave after the first of the year, employers should be mindful that some states and localities have enacted COVID-19 leave laws, which may or may not expire at the end of the year. For example:

  • New York State’s quarantine leave law, which requires that New York employers provide job-protected sick leave to employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation, does not expire at the end of the year.
  • On the other hand, Colorado’s COVID-19 leave law sunsets on December 31, 2020, although the State’s paid sick leave program begins phasing in on January 1, 2021.
  • California’s COVID-19 leave law expires on December 31, 2020 or upon the expiration of the paid sick leave provisions of the FFCRA. Although the federal relief bill allows employers to claim a tax credit for paid sick leave provided into 2021, it does not appear to change the expiration date of the paid sick leave provisions of the FFCRA. Therefore, unless the state amends the law or issues guidance to the contrary, California’s leave law will likely expire at the end of the year. However, unlike the federal FFCRA, the California law allows an employee who is on leave on the date that the law expires to complete their leave, even if this extends the leave period past the law’s expiration date.

Our other posts on the FFCRA are available on our Law and the Workplace blog.

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Proskauer’s cross-disciplinary, cross-jurisdictional Coronavirus Response Team is focused on supporting and addressing client concerns. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center for guidance on risk management measures, practical steps businesses can take and resources to help manage ongoing operations.

Photo of Evandro Gigante Evandro Gigante

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of…

Evandro Gigante is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration group and the Hiring & Terminations group. He represents and counsels clients through a variety of labor and employment matters, including allegations of race, gender, national origin, disability and religious discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation and breach of contract. Evandro also counsels employers through reductions-in-force and advises clients on restrictive covenant issues, such as confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicit agreements.

With a focus on discrimination and harassment matters, Evandro has extensive experience representing clients before federal and state courts. He has tried cases in court and before arbitrators and routinely represents clients before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as state and local human rights commissions.

Photo of Harris Mufson Harris Mufson

Harris M. Mufson is a partner in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department, where he serves as co-head of the Firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation Practice Group and the Disability, Accommodation & Leave Management Practice Group. He is highly regarded as a trusted advisor…

Harris M. Mufson is a partner in Proskauer’s Labor & Employment Law Department, where he serves as co-head of the Firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation Practice Group and the Disability, Accommodation & Leave Management Practice Group. He is highly regarded as a trusted advisor to clients in a wide range of industries regarding significant employment issues. Harris has vast expertise in employment matters, representing employers in disputes regarding discrimination and retaliation, whistleblowing, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation, breach of contract, wage and hour, and restrictive covenants. In addition to litigating, Harris counsels clients on compliance with employment-related laws, as well as the development, implementation and enforcement of personnel policies and procedures. Additionally, he has conducted numerous internal investigations regarding sensitive employment matters.

Photo of Alex Downie Alex Downie

Alex Downie is a law clerk in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. He previously worked as a summer associate at Proskauer and as an intern at the Department of Justice.

Alex earned…

Alex Downie is a law clerk in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. He previously worked as a summer associate at Proskauer and as an intern at the Department of Justice.

Alex earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as the executive editor of the Virginia Law & Business Review. He also volunteered for the school’s employment law clinic, where he assisted with a variety of employment-related matters ranging from employment discrimination to wage and hour disputes.

Photo of Abigail Rosenblum Abigail Rosenblum

Abigail Rosenblum is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group.

Abigail earned her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she also completed a certificate program in business management…

Abigail Rosenblum is an associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group.

Abigail earned her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she also completed a certificate program in business management at The Wharton School and served as a Senior Editor of the Journal of International Law. During law school, she interned for the Honorable Eduardo C. Robreno of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Prior to law school, Abigail worked in management at an industrial supply company, doing internal consultant work.