by Marti Cardi, Esq. - Senior Compliance Consultant and Legal Counsel
January 19, 2021
On January 14, 2021, President-Elect Biden announced his American Rescue Plan. The Plan includes more employer-provided COVID-related paid leave. If enacted, his plan would:
- Reinstate the FFCRA paid leave provisions and extend the requirements to all employers (expanding coverage from private employers with fewer than 500 employees and eliminating the financial hardship exemption for employers with fewer than 50 employees).
- Eliminate the exemptions for healthcare workers and first responders.
- Provide “over 14 weeks” of paid sick leave and family and medical leave for school or care center closures, caring for others with COVID-19, quarantining after exposure, and getting vaccinated. The make-up of that “over 14 weeks” of leave is not explained. The inclusion of “care center” closures makes me wonder if that is referring only to daycare for children, or could expand to include closure of care centers for adult family members in need of daily assistance.
- Extend all paid leave to federal workers. Under FFCRA in 2020, federal employees were eligible for paid sick leave but not expanded paid FMLA for school closures.
- Provide a maximum paid leave benefit of $1,400 per week. Mr. Biden’s Plan Fact Sheet (link below) indicates this will provide full wage replacement for workers earning up to $73,000 per year.
- Provide a 100% tax credit to employers with fewer than 500 employees, but not to larger employers.
- Reimburse state and local governments for the cost of the leave.
- Remain in effect from passage until September 30, 2021.
Here is Mr. Biden’s American Rescue Plan Fact Sheet. The paid leave provisions are on pages 7-8: Biden Transition COVID Relief Package Fact Sheet - DocumentCloud
There are lots of missing details. As of this writing, the U.S. House of Representatives has not yet proposed a 2021 bill with these or similar features, but it’s early days yet! Matrix will be watching for further developments. To us, the bigger question with longer-term impact is, will the U.S. Congress pass a federal paid family and medical leave bill for broader purposes such as the leave reasons protected by the unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act?