Government Backed Paid Leave Set to Expire

Last spring, in the early throes of the pandemic, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The Act focuses on encouraging workers sick with COVID-19 to stay home and quarantine, while also providing relief to parents forced to care for children suddenly home from school or day care. At its core, the Act offers up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees ordered to quarantine by a government official or medical provider and to employees showing symptoms of and seeking treatment for COVID-19. It also provides up to 12 weeks of paid time off (at 2/3 pay) for parents caring for children whose school or daycare has been closed due to the pandemic. (In both instances, certain exceptions apply.) Employers must pay wages to the absent employees but can seek 100% reimbursement from the federal government through payroll tax withholding deductions.

Absent further action from Congress, the FFCRA’s mandatory paid leave provisions will expire on December 31, 2020. And employers will struggle with the difficult decision of how best to keep sick workers from infecting the workplace. Some may implement tighter screening measures. Others have decided to continue some sort of paid leave without the benefit of government reimbursement. And still others will look to “advance” paid time off to allow sick or exposed employees to borrow against next year’s vacation or sick pay to avoid a financial hardship in the short-term.

Talks continue in Washington as Congress’ holiday recess draws close. If and when a deal is struck, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, businesses should make plans on how they will manage their workforce in what looks to be a challenging winter of 2021 should Washington fail to offer solutions.

If you have questions or concerns about what this means for your business, contact us at (248) 477-6300 or info@wrightbeamer.com.