Question: We were required to offer employees paid time off under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) last year. Do I still need to?

Answer: While it is no longer mandatory for employers with fewer than 500 employees to offer this time off, it is voluntary.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act signed by President Trump extended the accessibility and tax credits for the FFCRA through March 31, 2021, but made it voluntary to offer. The recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act extended FFCRA as a voluntary benefit and applicable tax credit offset through September 30, 2021, and it also made some revisions including:

• expanding the covered reasons to include vaccine appointments and time off due to complications from receiving the vaccines;
• reset the allotment of available time off (2-week / 80-hour of sick time and 10 weeks of paid family leave per employee) March 31, 2021;
• increase the amount of credit available for employees offering paid family leave to $12,000;
• increase the number of days self-employed individuals can use to calculate qualifying leave to 60 days;
• increase time off for federal workers to 15 weeks; and
• require employers to provide FFCRA to all employees without discriminating against a certain group.

Again, any FFCRA is voluntary as of January 1, 2021. However, providing employees with this paid time off (as well as related costs such as insurance premiums) is repaid to employers through the offset of payroll taxes.

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