The Family First Coronavirus Response Act stipulated that employees would be paid sick and that family vacation with a tax credit would be mandatory for employers. This paid vacation is now optional.
SACRAMENTO, California – With the second federal stimulus bill going into effect, many programs and regulations that should expire in late 2020 are now being extended.
This doesn’t include the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which made paid vacation mandatory for some employers to offer during the coronavirus pandemic.
The FFCRA stated that some public employers and private employers with fewer than 500 employees were required to offer 80 hours of emergency paid leave and / or 10 weeks of extended family leave due to certain reasons related to COVID-19.
It enabled parents in need to get family leave to take care of their children who were at home due to school closings. Employers would receive a tax credit for every vacation their employees would take.
The tax credit will now remain in place for employers who offer this paid vacation until March 31, 2021, but the requirement that employers provide it no longer remains in effect.
Elizabeth Stallard, a partner in the labor and employment practice at Downey Brand LLP in Sacramento, spoke to ABC10 about what this means for workers and employers.
“If an employer decides not to give this vacation benefit until March, they don’t have to, right, so it gives employers a little more power,” Stallard said.
Employers who continue to offer paid vacation can receive a tax credit, but they can also choose to opt out. Previously, employers had to show an exception in order not to be covered by the FFCRA.
Extending the tax credit does not mean that there is any increase in the amount of time an employee can take on vacation. However, if an employer chooses to continue the tax credit, an employee may be entitled to the same options as what was offered before.
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular wages if the employee is quarantined and / or symptoms of COVID-19 occur.
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds of the regular pay of the employee if the employee has to look after a person in quarantine or a child whose school or childcare provider is closed or not available due to COVID-19.
- Up to 10 weeks of paid extended family and sick leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular wage if an employee is unable to work due to the need to care for a child whose school is closed due to COVID-19.
“If you had an employee who otherwise qualified for the vacation and took those 80 hours, say October 2020, even though they have the option to extend the benefit until March, that employee will no longer receive hours” Said Stallard. “They no longer give, but only extend the period in which employees who otherwise might not have used this could do so for another three months.”
If the FFCRA tax credit is retained, the option remains open. Stallard calls it something like a “compromise” where lawmakers are trying to figure out how to continue protecting workers without burdening employers who have financial or human problems.
“The reality is, I think in March and April when a lot of these things happened, they assumed we’d be done with them by the end of 2020,” Stallard said.
Of course that didn’t happen as we now know. Several programs will expire at the end of December, including pandemic unemployment benefits. Now these programs have also been expanded by the Federal Economic Act.
In addition, there are a variety of statewide, statewide, and even citywide programs that add paid vacation provisions to top it off at the federal level. As more expiration dates approach at the local level, Stallard believes there will be a lot “in flux” when it comes to paid vacation.
“We are now seeing that, as I will say, these places also add to the benefits,” Stallard said.
Stallard carefully goes into details of what this means for the workplace as there are differences based not only on types of employment, public or private employers, number of employees, etc., but also on the way the state of California handles it Paid vacation bypasses is different from other states.
“I think it’s important to remember when looking at a federal decision. It’s not necessarily in the eyes as we’d see it in California, but it may be more of a reaction to the way Employers in other states don’t. ” I was used to providing things like paid sick leave, “Stallard said.
California law requires employers to offer at least 3 days of paid sick leave. This also applies to employers who do not wish to continue the FFCRA paid vacation tax credit.
However, Stallard said the best way to really know what options are available to you is to ask your employer directly.
“There are other types of support for employees … for example, if they have COVID,” said Stallard. “There are disability, short-term, and long-term disability benefits. There are workers’ compensation benefits, and these would be increasingly screwed up due to government activity to suggest that there is a suspicion that you caught her at work Right, so there are a lot of people out there who may be able to claim compensation. “
It’s complicated, but an employer would probably know best what is on offer. Stallard also suggests visiting the California Department of Labor Relations website. She says it’s a good place to find information on what’s out there and who qualifies for it outside of the FFCRA.
It’s also important to keep an eye out for updates, advises Stallard, as programs continue to change as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.
“I think this is a time leaning on the pandemic. We know winter is going to be rough,” Stallard said. “We’re seeing a lot of infections – a lot of impacts on the community and our health care. I think we’ll likely see more fluctuations over the next few months. There are things that are expanding right now because they are different ending the year, but I would be not surprisingly, if we saw changes in the existing guidelines too, especially in the next month or two. “
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