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Employers can extend the FFCRA, but the mandate expires: Experts



The Family First Coronavirus Response Act will expire at the end of the year as planned, but employers can voluntarily choose to extend it through the first quarter, experts now say.

This is their interpretation of the FFCRA regulations in the $ 900 billion coronavirus relief. bill approved by the U.S. Senate on Monday, based on language in more than 5,000 pages of legislation.

A somewhat cryptic reference to the program in a statement issued on Sunday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, when the legal text was not yet available, initially left this unclear. on sick leave. It includes private employers with less than 500 employees and some public employers. Employers received a tax relief for wages for paid leave according to the law.

According to the legislation, "tax credits continue until 31

March, but the mandate expires. (Employers) can choose to provide FCRA level and get the tax credit, but they are no longer required to, says Philip K. Miles III, an employment and employment lawyer and a shareholder in McQuaide Blasko Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania

Jeff Nowak, a shareholder with Littler Mendelson PC in Chicago, who represents employers in labor law issues, said: "We do not see this as a new era for employees coming January 1st. To the extent that an employee had already exhausted paid sick leave or paid (Family Medical Leave Act), they will not be entitled to a new bucket coming January 1st. But to the extent they still have time off, employers can still offer it, said Mr. Nowak.

Mr. Nowak said he was not sure how many employers would do it. "At this point, I sincerely believe that employers are still working on this, and I dare say that there will be a critical number of employers who voluntarily extend these benefits. It is not as if the need disappears on 1 January. "It will remain," and the political considerations are still present for employers. "

Mr. Miles said he believes larger companies "that have the capacity to continue offering paid leave will do so."

"For smaller employers, there are quite significant administrative burdens," he said. The program creates cash flow issues, as companies have to pay workers before they get the tax credit. "I suspect they will say that headaches are not worth it," he said.

However, he added that the new situation could put employers in a "rather awkward position to tell their employees," We could do this, but we do not. "Employees will have expectations" and deciding to suspend the program could mean that companies "could have moral consequences," Miles said.

Eric B. Meyer, a partner with FisherBroyle's LLP in Philadelphia representing employers, said he believes one reason the program was not extended is that with the vaccine now available, we may have seen the worst of the coronavirus' effects, which means that there may be fewer people who need FFCRA in the future.

He also pointed to the $ 600 stimulus checks that will be distributed during the relief count. "Stimulus controls would be better received than FFCRA leave," he said.

Mr. Miles also said doing the FFCRA voluntarily may have been one of many compromises Democrats and Republicans made to create the legislation.

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