Q: I understand the mandated Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) ended December 31, 2020. How does the recently passed legislation “The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021” impact FFCRA with regards to employee leave requirements? How are employers to handle leaves related to COVID-19?

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A: The mandate requiring employers with under 500 employees to offer FFCRA expired on December 31, 2020.  Employers may voluntarily extend FFCRA and continue to receive credits through March 31, 2021. In order to receive the credits, employers must continue to follow the rules found on the DOL Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers and the COVID-19-Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small and Midsize Businesses FAQs.

Employers who do not voluntarily extend FFCRA and who must adhere to the Family Medical Leave Act, “FMLA” or “FML” should treat COVID-19 leave requests in the calendar year the same as any other request for leave, in accordance with their FML policies. As a reminder, if an employee has taken time under FFCRA for Extended Family Medical Leave, this time counts towards the traditional FML bank as stated in DOL FFCRA FAQ 44

Employers should be aware of any state or local leave laws that may still apply outside of FMLA and/or FFCRA. This would include the newly enacted City of Pittsburgh Temporary COVID-19 Leave Act. In the absence of an FML requirement and any state or local leave laws, employers should adhere to their regular leave policy.

Employers who were mandated to follow FFCRA will want to communicate any changes to their policy for Covid-19 leave effective January 1, 2021 to employees.

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