May 6, 2021

Volume XI, Number 126

Advertisement

May 05, 2021

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

May 04, 2021

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

May 03, 2021

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Stimulus Package: Employment Law Edition

Hopefully, by now you have had a chance to peruse our colleagues’ high level overview of the recently signed stimulus package and the $284 billion allocated for the second round of the Payroll Protection Program and the $15 billion grant program for venue operators.

For employers, there are two key elements of the stimulus package that you should be aware of:

Unemployment Insurance (UI)

The package provides that individuals receiving unemployment benefits will receive an additional $300 per week in federal UI benefits for up to 11 weeks through March 14, 2021.  As you may recall, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (more familiarly known as the CARES Act) provided recipients of state unemployment benefits with a $600 supplement, which expired in July 2020.  The package’s $300 federal payment is, likewise, in addition to payments that individuals receive from their state unemployment programs. 

In addition, it extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs.  The PUA program provides federally funded benefits to individuals who do not otherwise qualify for state unemployment benefits, such as self-employed workers and gig workers. The PEUC provides federally funded unemployment benefits for individuals who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits.  The package also increases the maximum number of weeks an individual may claim benefits through regular state unemployment plus the PEUC or PUA programs, from 39 weeks (under the CARES Act) to 50 weeks. Finally, the package provides for an additional $100 per week for certain “mixed earners” – individuals who earn both W-2 and 1099 income.  

Voluntary Compliance with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

As you may recall, the FFCRA's mandatory paid leave requirements will expire on December 31, 2020. The stimulus package offers employers the opportunity to voluntarily continue to provide emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) and emergency paid family (EFMLA) leave under the FFCRA through March 31, 2021 and continue to receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit in respect of the paid leave voluntarily provided. 

Please note that if, by December 31, 2020, an employee has already exhausted their EPSL entitlement under the FFCRA, they are not entitled to additional paid EPSL leave beginning January 1, 2021, and it does not appear that an employer will be entitled to a tax credit for paid leave voluntarily provided in excess of the employee’s paid leave entitlement.

As an example, if an employee exhausted their entire 80-hours EPSL entitlement in 2020, they would not be eligible for EPSL in 2021.  However, if the employee used only 50 hours of EPSL in 2020, they would remain eligible for 30 hours of EPSL during the period January 1, 2021 to March 31, 2021, but only if their employer voluntarily agrees to provide FFCRA leave. At this point, it is unclear whether an employee who has exhausted their entire 12-week EFMLA leave entitlement would be eligible for additional leave if their employer’s FMLA 12-month period resets before March 31, 2021 (for those employers who voluntarily continue to provide FFCRA leave). 

Of course, it’s entirely possible that the US Department of Labor (DOL) and/or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will publish guidance regarding the practical application of voluntarily provided FFCRA leave.  Until then, it would seem that referencing the DOL’s and IRS’s previously published guidance regarding mandatory FFCRA leave would be prudent.  But don’t forget to consider whether there is an applicable state law or local ordinance that may speak to paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons.  

Advertisement
© 2021 Much Shelist, P.C.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 364
Advertisement
Advertisement

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS

Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

Sheryl Jaffee Halpern, Much Shelist Law firm, Labor Employment Attorney
Principal

Sheryl Jaffee Halpern, chair of the firm's Labor & Employment group, helps employers make important decisions about their employees in a way that is designed to minimize risk. counsels clients on a wide range of employment matters, providing clear, direct guidance designed to promote compliance with the law, while remaining cognizant of the practical workplace realities her clients face. She counsels employers on a wide range of employment matters, providing clear and direct guidance that promotes legal compliance, while remaining cognizant of the practical...

312-521-2637
Camille Khodadad Employment Attorney, Much Shelist Law Firm
Principal

Camille focuses her practice on the prevention and resolution of labor, employment and commercial disputes. A highly experienced legal advisor and litigator, she has counseled clients, managed complex dockets and tried cases in federal and state courts throughout the United States.
 
Camille has a comprehensive knowledge of the many, often overlapping laws that affect the employer-employee relationship, including federal and state anti-discrimination laws, the Employment Retirement and Income Security Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act...

312.521.2639
Advertisement
Advertisement