Providing COVID-19 Leave In 2021: It’s An Option

December 29, 2020 | By Ivo J. Becica, Charles L. Shute Jr.

On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, providing funding for the government as well as COVID-19 relief.  Among other provisions relevant to businesses (summarized here), the legislation does not extend the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which is set to expire on December 31, 2020.

The FFCRA (summarized by HR Legalist here) required most employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide both paid sick leave and emergency family medical leave.  While this latest law allows this obligation to lapse when 2021 begins, it does contain an incentive for employers to continue to voluntarily provide the benefits afforded to employees under the FFCRA. Indeed, the Act permits employers to continue to claim the provided tax credits (dollar-for-dollar on wages paid to employees taking FFCRA leave) through March 31, 2021–if the employer provides “FFCRA like” paid leave benefits to employees.

Whether employers choose to take advantage of the continued tax breaks will require consideration of a multitude of factors, including staffing needs, financial health, and employee morale, amongst other considerations. In addition, when faced with decisions regarding employee medical issues and leaves of absence, employers must also be cognizant of the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), state or local laws, regulations, or ordinances providing for mandatory leaves of absences under similar circumstances. In short, employers should contact their employment counsel before making a decision to deny a leave of absence because the mandatory leave provision of the FFCRA has been permitted to expire. As always, we will keep our readers updated regarding any new developments regarding COVID-19 related employment issues.   

The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal or medical advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel or medical consultation, and should not be relied on as such.

About the Authors

Ivo Becica

Ivo J. Becica


Ivo is a partner in Obermayer’s Labor Relations & Employment Law Department. He focuses his practice on representing employers, including advising companies on how to handle employee issues, and defending employee claims...

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Charles L. Shute Jr.

Senior Counsel

Charlie is an attorney in the Labor & Employment Department, focusing his practice on representing management in all aspects of labor and employment law. Charlie views his clients as his partners and,...

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