On December 21, 2020, Congress passed a $900 billion stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump signed the bill into law on December 27, 2020. This second stimulus package comes almost nine months after the CARES Act stimulus package. One thing this bill does not include, however, is an extension of the temporary medical leaves set forth in Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).
The FFCRA, which was passed in March 2020, expanded FMLA leave and created emergency paid sick leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19. These FFCRA leave provisions are set to expire on December 31, 2020. Beginning January 1, 2021, those employers that are covered under the FFCRA may voluntarily provide FFCRA emergency paid sick leave and expanded FMLA leave as long as they choose. However, they are no longer required to provide employees with such leave under the FFCRA.
The new stimulus bill does provide for an extension of the FFCRA tax credits for private sector employers that provide leave for COVID-19 related absences. Private sector employers may now apply for and utilize the tax credit extension until March 31, 2021. This section does not apply to public employers.
It is likely that the Department of Labor and the IRS will provide additional guidance on this new legislation in the upcoming weeks so please check back for updates as more information becomes available.