Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Leave Updates

January 25, 2021

Federal Updates

President Biden’s proposed “American Rescue Plan” covers many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic including providing much needed relief for American workers as well as an extension of paid leave. Here are the highlights:

  • All employers would be covered. Employers previously covered under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) would again be subject to the leave requirements under FFCRA. Employers who were not subject to FFCRA (500 or more employees) would now be required to provide FFCRA leave. Exemptions for smaller employers would be removed.
  • Health care workers and first responders would be able to take FFCRA leave. Federal employees would be able to take paid FMLA (previously limited to paid sick leave).
  • Increase the amount of leave to 14 weeks of paid sick and family and medical leave for the following reasons:
    • Caregiving responsibilities when a child or loved one’s school or care center is closed;
    • For people who have or are caring for people with COVID-19 symptoms, or who are quarantining due to exposure; and
    • For people needing to take time to get the vaccine.
  • Increase the maximum paid leave benefit amount to $1,400 per week for eligible workers
  • Reimburse employers with fewer than 500 employees for the cost of this leave.
  • Reimburse state and local government for the cost of this leave.
  • Extend emergency paid leave measures until September 30, 2021.

If you would like to read more about Biden’s proposed plan, the fact sheet provides more details. We will see what happens and will keep you posted.

State Updates

California

City of Oakland

Last week, the city council passed an emergency ordinance that extends and amends the Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) ordinance that expired December 31, 2020. The emergency ordinance is retroactive to December 31, 2020 and will remain in place through the end of the city’s COVID-19 Emergency Declaration. Of note:

  • The requirement for EPSL continues to be a one-time basis. In other words, the emergency ordinance does not provide an additional bank of EPSL hours; employees are able to take any unused EPSL they were entitled to receive in 2020.
  • If an employee has worked for less than 14 days over the period of January 1 through January 21, 2021, the employer shall provide EPSL once the employee has received remuneration for 14 days, in an amount equal to the number of hours the employee worked within the City of Oakland over the 14 days.
  • Employers may credit the total sick leave hours provided under the FFCRA and/or California’s supplemental paid sick leave laws.

For details on the original ordinance, please see our May 21, 2020 newsletter. The required notice for employers to provide to employees has not yet been updated. We will share once it is available.

For more information regarding COVID-19 leave laws, please visit our website where you can access our consolidated list of city, county, and state laws.

California Voluntary Plans

A quick reminder that we will reach out to our Voluntary Plan clients next week to request the 2020 Q4 DE3D and bank statements for December 2020 and January 2021. We will also send the 2021 Voluntary Plan Documents to the EDD as required.

New York

The New York Department of Labor has released additional guidance on the use of COVID-19 sick leave. The guidance is short but sweet providing information about testing, pay, documentation, and multiple periods of sick leave.

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