FFCRA – Just When We Were Getting the Hang of It

With seemingly the blink of an eye, the federal government back in March enacted emergency legislation known as FFCRA, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  The swift action was intended to bring some relief to individuals who had to quarantine because of COVID exposure or illness, and/or because their child care or schools closed in response to stopping the spread.  That was nine months ago now, and many HR professionals have finally gotten the hang of recording and tracking these leave benefits.

And here we are, at the end of 2020.  Unless there’s new action taken in D.C., the FFCRA legislation that HR leads across the country are used to will sunset on December 31, 2020.  Funding for either parts of this leave act ends when 2021 enters.  In a nutshell, keep these two things in mind:

  • The sick leave portion of FFCRA allows for up to 80 hours of pay, if an employee’s leave is eligible. That means that the last day for receiving the full 80 hours of pay is December 17, 2020.  If employee requests for this leave come in after this, they will not get the full 80 hours (based on an 8-hour day, 5 days a week).  They could receive a portion of those hours, determined by what they would have worked, but time cannot be claimed as of Jan 1, 2021.
  • The second part of the Act is very specific towards childcare, as an emergency FLMA piece. It can be used if schools or childcare are closed directly because of COVID.  As we approach Winter Break, it is important to recognize that this does not qualify for FFCRA leave.  It is possible that the childcare center an employee’s child would attend during the school break could be closed because of COVID, in which case that likely would be an eligible request.  Please remember to get proof of closure of the facility due to COVID if this is the case.
  • Another point for this second reason to use FFCRA: the act grants up to 12 weeks (10 weeks paid).  If employees are on this emergency FMLA from FFCRA, again, the tax credits employers use to fund the paid employee portion of this leave expires on December 31, 2020 and cannot be claimed after that.  Essentially, employee leave is not paid after that date, unless employers want to shoulder that on their own.

 

Of course, there are still just over two weeks left in 2020, and the federal government could choose to extend FFCRA.  Be on the watch for that, but while doing so, also be mindful of the benefits expiring.

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