Congress Passes New COVID-19 Relief Bill, Allows FFCRA Leave Requirements to Expire

Bowles Rice Labor and Employment e-Alert
Congress Passes New COVID-19 Relief Bill,
Allows FFCRA Leave Requirements to Expire

December 23, 2020

On Monday, December 21, 2020, after many weeks of negotiations, Congress successfully passed a new COVID-19 stimulus package as part of a larger appropriations bill to fund the federal government through September 31, 2021. The President has asked Congress to amend the bill to increase the stimulus and to eliminate what he views as wasteful and unnecessary items contained in the legislation.

While the bill includes many items designed to assist individuals and businesses through the pandemic, Congress chose not to extend provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that required employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave to employees for reasons related to COVID-19. However, Congress did extend the tax credits available to covered employers who voluntarily choose to continue to offer that benefit to eligible employees through March 31, 2021.

The FFCRA originally required covered employers to provide eligible employees with up to 80 hours of emergency "Paid Sick Time," and up to twelve weeks of "Public Health Emergency Leave" (the first two weeks of which are unpaid), through December 31, 2020. The cost of these paid leave entitlements was offset by tax credits provided to employers. As of January 1, 2021, employers will no longer be required to provide these entitlements, but may do so voluntarily and take the tax credit for eligible leave taken through March 31, 2021.

Because the stimulus bill only extended the availability of the tax credits, it does not appear that covered employers are required to offer additional FFCRA leave to eligible employees who used up their entitlements prior to December 31, 2020. For instance, full-time employees that used 80 hours of "Paid Sick Time" earlier this year do not appear to be eligible for additional "Paid Sick Time" starting on January 1, 2021. Similarly, an employer who voluntarily provides additional "Paid Sick Time" to employees who previously used up their entitlement does not appear to be eligible to take an additional tax credit.

We are awaiting guidance from the Department of Labor or the Internal Revenue Service to clarify these issues. Of course, all employers should also be mindful of state and local laws that may require paid leave, as well as their own discretionary paid leave and PTO policies.

For more Information:
The Bowles Rice Labor and Employment Law Team is closely monitoring these and related updates and will continue to share important details as they evolve. If you have questions or would like additional information on the updated COVID-19 technical assistance publication, please contact a member of our team.

Jennifer Hagedorn
Labor & Employment
contact by email

Julie Moore
Labor & Employment
contact by email

Tyler Mayhew
Human Resources Chair
contact by email

Bowles Rice is a Full-service Law Firm
For more information, visit our website:

This is an advertisement.