Employment Law Alert: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) set to expire on December 31, 2020; no renewal in sight

Despite the continuing increase in COVID-19 cases and the limit on gatherings, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will expire on December 31, 2020. Enacted in March 2020, the FFCRA provided extra expanded leave entitlements to employees in many industries. While the Biden Transition Team has indicated that the incoming president would support a bill extending FFCRA benefits, at this time Congress has not yet made noteworthy steps in that direction. The Frier Levitt employment law group will continue to keep clients apprised of any updates.

What This Means For Employers

For many of our healthcare clients, who have excluded employees under the “healthcare provider” exception, the expiration of FFCRA will obviate the uncertainty of whether borderline patient-facing employees qualify for exclusion. Those who have not already done so should advise their employees that FFCRA leave benefits will expire  on December 31, 2020, and that any unused benefit will not carry over into the new year.

All employers can also expect an increase in childcare-related leave requests as the number of cases continues to rise and more schools are transitioning to virtual-only. With FFCRA expiring, employees will have fewer options for paid leave.

What Should Employers Be Doing?

First, employers should inform their employees of FFCRA’s expiration at the end of the year. Next, employee handbooks, policies, and memos should be updated to reflect FFCRA’s expiration. The end of the year is also a good time for employers to review their employee handbook—or ensure they have one—and consult with counsel for necessary updates.

Next, employers should plan ahead for COVID-related personnel requests while the pandemic is ongoing. Though FFCRA entitlements will expire, leave and accommodation requests will not. Employers should internally ask themselves: what is our sick leave policy? What is our vacation leave or paid time off policy? What options do we give an employee who has no vacation or sick leave left? How will we handle an outbreak at the office, or an employee who tests positive? Frier Levitt’s employment attorneys are up-to-date on the latest developments in the law and guide clients through these questions daily.

Finally, employers should keep their ear to the ground for any developments in this rapidly changing area of law. It is certainly possible that FFCRA or some derivative law will quickly go into effect and change employers’ compliance requirements once again, particularly around this presidential transition period. Stay tuned to Frier Levitt’s blog for those updates.

How Frier Levitt Can Help

Frier Levitt’s skilled employment attorneys are closely monitoring legal developments and changes and are available to help employers work out the complexities and navigate these difficult times. Since there is no “one size fits all” solution for every business, employers should consult a skilled employment attorney regarding implementing the Governor’s changes and updating existing safety protocols to comport with new requirements. Contact us today to speak to an attorney.

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