As of now, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) paid-leave requirements will expire on December 31, 2020. The FFCRA provided paid sick leave through the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act for certain coronavirus related instances and extended paid leave for employees with children whose child care was shut down through the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. These provisions related to employers with less than 500 employees.
About A Possible FFCRA Extension
While there have been some attempts by the House to extend the FFCRA, those efforts have not come to fruition. Currently, there is not legislation to extend the FFCRA past the December 31, 2020 deadline. However, some predicted that the Federal government will eventually extend the deadlines for the FFCRA leave at some point in early 2021 and that it will be retroactive to January 1, 2021.
What Happens IF FFCRA Is Not Extended?
If the Federal government does not expand the FFCRA, it would be up to state/local governments and employers to provide relief for employees.
State and local governments could provide relief through either the expansion of current laws or by passing new laws to protect employees. In fact, many states already have passed laws to help employees affected by the coronavirus. An example is the state of New York has enacted legislation to provide mandatory leave and also provide other paid benefits for any employees affected by a quarantine order. This leave does not expire on December 31, 2020.
What Can Employers Do Now?
Employers can also provide relief to their workers. Many employers already have policies that have expanded to address new employee challenges brought on by the pandemic. Examples have been extended PTO plans, work from home options, etc. If the FFCRA is not extended it is anticipated more employers would continue to establish policies to help affected employees.
Employers need to stay vigilant to keep up to date on the FFCRA and state/local laws that address the coronavirus. Employers need to communicate relief that is available to employees through the federal government, state/local governments, and employer policies so they are fully aware of what is available to them. Good communication will alleviate stress and ensure there are no surprises for the employees. We suggest that employers should continually advise employees as to their options for continued leave, paid, or unpaid.