Federal Government Publishes Guidance on Expiration of Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave for Coronavirus

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) recently announced additional guidance to provide information to workers and employers about protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA’s paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements will expire on Dec. 31, 2020.

The new guidance, in the form of Frequently Asked Questions on the WHD website, addresses whether workers who did not use their leave entitlement under the FFCRA in 2020 may use such leave after Dec. 31, 2020. It also explains how WHD will maintain its enforcement authority over employers’ leave responsibilities while the FFCRA’s paid leave requirements were in effect, even after these leave entitlements have expired.

Additionally, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), 2021, extended employer tax credits for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave voluntarily provided to employees until March 31, 2021.  However, the CAA did not extend employees’ entitlement to FFCRA leave beyond Dec. 31, 2020, meaning employers will no longer be legally required to provide such leave.

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“The Wage and Hour Division is attuned to the critical need for American workers and employers to understand this relief program as they deal with the effects of this crisis on the workplace,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “The guidance we issued… provides clarity around some of the novel issues that the FFCRA’s expiration raises. We remain committed to providing as many tools and as much information as possible to all parties.”

The FFCRA helps the U.S. combat and defeat the workplace effects of the coronavirus by giving tax credits to American businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide employees with paid leave, either for certain of the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members, for certain reasons related to COVID-19. Please visit WHD’s “Quick Benefits Tips” for information about how much leave workers are qualified to use, and the wages employers were required to pay. By extending these tax credits to employers who voluntarily provide FFCRA leave, the CCA enables employers to provide paid leave, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.

WHD provides updated information on its website to ensure that workers and employers have the information they need about the benefits and protections of this law. The agency also provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to the coronavirus and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and on job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

For further information about the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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