Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), employers were required to provide employees with job-protected FFCRA leave through the law’s effective period from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. With the expiration of the FFCRA, however, this leave requirement has come to an end. Employers should stay alert, however, because congress could decide to extend the FFCRA leave requirement into 2021.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued some guidance on an employer’s obligation under the mandatory leave provisions of the FFCRA, updating the Questions and Answers section here. First, the expiration of the FFCRA’s leave requirement does not mean that employers are off the hook for paying for any leave taken or requested during the effective period. Employees must receive any payments for leave if requested or actually taken during that time. Employees who have been deprived of their FFCRA leave taken or requested during the effective period have two years to file a complaint against their employer. An extra year is given to bring a claim in cases involving alleged violations that were purposely committed.
Additionally, the DOL is encouraging employers to voluntarily grant FFCRA beyond the expiration date by reminding employers that if they voluntarily provide paid leave, they will continue to be able to take a tax credit for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave through March 31, 2021.
Bottom Line: Employers are no longer required to provide mandatory paid leave, although they must make sure to continue to make payments for leave taken before January 1, 2021. However, do not forget about other laws, state and federal, that oblige employers to provide unpaid leave in case of illness, such as the FMLA, ADA and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.