With the approval of the American Rescue Plan Act on March 11 came a not unanticipated expansion and extension of the EPSL benefits initially offered under provisions of the FCCRA in April 2020 and outlined in a prior post last summer.
As you may recall, employers with fewer than 500 employees were required to provide COVID-19-related paid emergency family medical leave (EFMLEA) and emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) in exchange for a corresponding tax credit.
Although employer mandated benefits expired on December 31, 2020, passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) on December 27, 2020, gave employers the option to offer any unused benefits through March 31, 2021.
While ARPA does not reinstate the mandate that employers offer EPSL to their employees, for those employers who elect to voluntarily participate in the program, it does provide some new benefits available:
- Increases the number of days of paid leave from 50 days to 60 days
- Increases covered wages from $10,000 to $12,000 per employee
- Expands the tax credits to cover leave provided to employees for COVID-19 vaccinations or wait times for test results or diagnoses
- Adds anti-discrimination provision limiting tax credit if employers’ paid leave policies favor highly compensated employees, full-time workers or employees based on tenure
The coverage period for the new benefits extends from April 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021.