When the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the Act) became law this week, it extended many of the business and tax benefits of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
But equally important to employers is what the Act did and did not extend under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which mandated that employers with fewer than 500 employees provide expanded paid sick leave and family medical leave through December 31, 2020. The Act:
- Does not extend the provisions of the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act included in the FFCRA. This means that the 80 hours of paid sick and family leave and up to 10 weeks of partially paid family and medical leave will not be required as of January 1, 2021.
- Does extend the dollar-for-dollar tax credit for private employers who continue to provide emergency leave under the FFCRA framework after the mandate expires. The credit can be claimed for applicable wages paid between January 1 and March 31, 2021, as long as the employer has fewer than 500 employees and follows the exact provisions set forth by the FFCRA.
Employers with furloughed employees or new workforce planning decisions in 2021 should also take note of the Act’s extension of certain CARES Act unemployment benefits, which expired on December 26, 2020.
The Act adds an additional 11 weeks to the 13 weeks of state unemployment benefits mandated by the CARES Act, making the unemployment eligibility period a total of 24 weeks, under both state programs and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.
The Act also restores the CARES Act’s federal supplemental unemployment benefits at a lower weekly rate of $300 – down from $600 per week.
Important Workforce Decisions for 2021
Grassi’s HR Consultants are available to help you apply these changes to your business or nonprofit. Please contact Jeff Agranoff, HR Consulting Principal, for assistance with planning your 2021 workforce, employee paid leave policies, and other important HR decisions affecting your employees and business.