How will the American Rescue Plan’s FFCRA (paid leave) changes impact employers?


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Spoiler Alert: Not much.

But, since President Biden’s signature later this week will be the finishing touch on making his American Rescue Plan law, I’ll break it down for you anyway.

FFCRA remains voluntary.

If your private-sector business has fewer than 500 employees, you can continue to provide FFCRA leave through 9/30/21 and collect tax credits.

Eric, we’re a private employer with 500 or more employees. Can we participate too?

No. Your business is not covered. Stop reading. Play Sudoku instead. Maybe listen to some Jane’s Addiction or Gnarls Barkley.

Actually, scroll down to the end of this post. I have a few bonus Rescue Plan items that may interest you.

Is there a new bank of leave for employees to use?

Yep, each employee’s account resets to 10 days on April 1, 2021.

Can employees use FFCRA to get vaccinated?

Yes, they can. They can also use FFCRA leave to recover if they aren’t feeling well after getting vaccinated.

(Update your FFCRA leave forms).

What’s the maximum tax credit?

$200 per day, and $12,000 total per employee for family leave wages, up from $10,000. The American Rescue Plan also expands the definition of qualifying paid family leave to allow a business to claim family leave payroll tax credits for all qualifying uses of paid sick time, including for leave provided if the employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19 or is caring for someone in a comparable situation.

We only want to allow C-Suite employees to take FFCRA leave and stick it to everyone else. Cool?

No can do. There are no tax credits for employers that discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees, full-timers, or based on seniority.

We’re a smaller private employer. We don’t want to provide FFCRA anymore.

No one’s forcing you, bro. This isn’t Communist Russia.

Just check your state law requirements. And don’t forget about any FMLA/ADA obligations that could apply to COVID-19-related absences.

Eric, it’s not that I don’t believe you. But I want to read the House and Senate versions of the bill for myself.

Are you serious? Bruh! Fine, whatever. Enjoy!

Is there anything else in the Rescue Plan that we should know?

Lots probably. (Look, I didn’t read every line). But here are a few nuggets:

  • $100,000,000 to OSHA, a portion of which will be used to investigate employers that aren’t COVID-19 safe. (h/t: David Miklas)
  • $300 weekly u/c boost through Labor Day, and a new tax waiver on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits for many Americans. (Source: CNBC and more here)
  • $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. Borrowers will get loan forgiveness if they spend at least 60% of the money to support payroll expenses. The remainder goes to mortgage interest, rent, utilities, personal protective equipment, or certain other business expenses. (Source: CNN)
  • All that talk of raising the minimum wage to $15/hour was just that: talk. There is no minimum wage increase. (Source: Come on! Do you live under a rock?)

Eric, I still have questions. Help!

Mark your calendars for March 19 at Noon ET when The Employer Handbook Zoom Office Hour returns with special guest David Miklas. I’ll share more details next week. But, for now, you can be one of the first to register here.

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