The Department of Labor (DOL) has released updated guidance on COVID related leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act FFCRA as amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Under the FFCRA, covered employers were required to offer paid leave to employees for COVID-19 related reasons from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The cost of providing this leave was covered by a payroll tax credit, which in addition to paying lost wages also helped offset health insurance costs while the employee is out.

The mandate expired on December 31, 2020; however, the Consolidated Appropriations Act included a provision extending the FFCRA leave tax credit until March 31, 2020. Thus, covered employers now have the option to continue allowing FFCRA on a voluntary basis.

It is important to note that the Consolidated Appropriations Act did not increase the total amount of leave available to employees under the FFCRA, it merely extended the period of time where existing leave allotments may be used.

While the continuation of leave under the FFCRA is optional, employers should ensure that they administer leave consistently. Allowing some employees to use FFCRA leave while denying it for similarly situated employees could lead to discrimination claims.

At present the guidance is limited to two new questions (104 & 105) in the department’s question and answer page on FFCRA leave.

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