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FFCRA Leave Entitlements Set to Expire December 31, 2020

By: Kevin Brady

In March of this year, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) into law. The FFCRA represents the first major legislative response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the financial interests of those employees and families who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the FFCRA provides new and expanded leave entitlements under the Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA).

The EFMLA provides additional leave entitlements to employees who must take time off because they are unable to work (or telework) due to a need to care for a child in the event that the child’s school or place of child care has been closed or is unavailable due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) requires employers to provide paid sick leave (up to 80 hours) to employees who are unable to work (or telework) for any of the following reasons:

  1. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in subparagraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2).
  5. The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Employers should note that the obligation to provide leave under the EFMLA and the EPSLA terminates at the end of the year. Although it is possible that these leave entitlements will be extended beyond December 31, 2020 there is no indication (as of right now) that they will be.

Although it may no longer be required, employers may consider voluntarily continuing these leave entitlements to their employees to mitigate the risk of potentially contagious individuals returning to work too soon. Another important consideration for employers who self-fund their medical plans is to confirm that their plan document is updated to reflect this change. If leave is allowed beyond the employer’s obligations and coverage is continued under the medical plan, the group will want to confirm that the stop loss carrier is aware of and approve the approach.