While you were busy partying at home like it’s 1999 (cue music) or on Zoom with friends, or playing socially-distanced Cards Against Humanity, or whatever it is that HR folks do to let off a year of scalding-hot steam, the U.S. Department of Labor was staying busy at work on New Year’s Eve.
New Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) guidance
The FFCRA, which requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19, expired on December 31, 2020. However, covered employers have the option of continuing FFCRA until March 31, 2021. To assist, the DOL announced additional guidance to provide information to workers and employers about protections and relief that the FFCRA offers.
TL;DR, the DOL advises that:
- Employers may voluntarily provide workers with FFCRA leave through March 31, 2021.
- It will continue to enforce the FFCRA for all eligible employees through December 31, 2020.
The DOL didn’t tell us whether any bank(s) of FFCRA leaves replenish on January 1, 2021, including, for example, expanded FMLA for employers that calculate the FMLA year on the calendar method. The DOL also didn’t clarify whether employers can make available FFCRA leave to some employees in Q1 2021, but not others.
If you plan to offer FFCRA leave in 2021, update your forms and policies, and communicate those changes to your workforce. Incidentally, I asked last Wednesday’s Zoom Office Hours audience whether their businesses intended to offer FFCRA leave in 2021. Many said yes; a few said no. But, a significant number of people were not sure.
I politely suggest that, whatever your business decides to do, you figure it out soon — especially for folks that were on FFCRA leave as of December 31.
I’ll be back tomorrow to discuss the DOL’s new Fair Labor Standards Act guidance.