Employers should be aware of a number of key provisions under Biden’s new stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). I’ve provided summaries of some of the most significant in this three-part series: 1) expanded qualifying reasons for paid sick and emergency family leave; 2) expanded tax credits; and 3) changes to COBRA affecting notices, terminations, and severance agreements. In this three-part series, I will cover the aforementioned provisions.
ARPA’s Expanded Qualifying Reasons for Paid Sick and Emergency Family Leave
As you may recall, FFCRA mandated both paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave to employees for specific COVID-19 related reasons. Though the leave has not been mandatory since December 31, 2021, it has now been continued as permissive with accompanying tax credits by ARPA through September 31, 2021.
First, under FFCRA’s Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, an employee was entitled to paid leave if he or she was “experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and seeking a diagnosis.” The requirement that employees be experiencing symptoms effectively excluded employees who were exposed to COVID-19 but asymptomatic. ARPA modifies this eligibility category to eliminate the reference to COVID-19 symptoms and instead allows leave when an employee is “seeking or awaiting the result of a COVID-19 test or diagnosis when the employee has either been exposed to COVID-19, or the employer has requested the test or diagnosis.”
Also, an employee is now eligible if they are taking leave in connection with “obtaining immunization related to COVID-19 or recovering from any injury, disability, illness or condition related to such immunization.” This is significant as this now provides qualifying employers a way to get tax credit reimbursement for giving their employees time to get vaccinated or if they experience an adverse reaction from the vaccine. In some states and cities, like New York and Philadelphia, employers are required to provide this anyway. Now, there is an avenue for reimbursement. (1) obtaining a COVID-19 immunization; (2) recovering from an injury, disability, illness, or condition related to the immunization (i.e., side effects of the vaccine) or (3)
With respect to the portion of FFCRA covering Emergency Family and Medical Leave, leave was previously available only in connection with an employee’s inability to work or telework due to a COVID-19-related closure of a son or daughter’s school or place of care. Now, this leave may be taken for the original EFMLA qualifying reason and for any of the EPSL qualifying reasons. This significantly expands the qualifying reasons and thus the amount of paid leave that employees may take.
Best Practice Tip: Review your sick leave policy and consider creating a separate COVID-19 sick leave policy. Ensure that you have outside counsel who understands the federal, state, and local laws that are applicable to your business so that you’re not only providing what is legally necessary but being reimbursed where possible.
For assistance or questions on this or any other legal matter, please contact Katharine Batista at firstname.lastname@example.org or (267) 338-1319.
ABOUT KATHARINE BATISTA
email@example.com | 267.338.1319
Ms. Batista is an employment & labor attorney who provides businesses with advice and risk mitigation strategies, and zealous representation in litigation. She frequently represents businesses in the hospitality, financial services, automotive dealership, engineering and architecture and healthcare industries. Specifically, Ms. Batista successfully defends employers against claims of discrimination and harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and wage and hour violations. Ms. Batista also commonly represents her clients in actions involving employee mobility and trade secret theft. Employment and labor law is ever-changing. Employers need to feel secure in how they manage their employees so they can focus on their business. Ms. Batista affords her clients that security.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we focus on furthering our clients’ objectives and provide timely services and within budget, all while focusing on the clients’ interests and goals.
Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States. With over 230 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well-positioned to meet dynamic businesses’ needs, as well as the needs of the people who own and operate them. We also provide representation of individuals and families in diverse matters ranging from estate planning and asset protection to intellectual property structuring and entrepreneurial start-ups. Our International Group provides clients with a broad range of services for transactions and dispute representation for clients worldwide, including Europe, Canada, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
At Offit Kurman, we distinguish ourselves by the quality, breadth, and global reach of our legal services — as well as our unique operational structure, which encourages a culture of collaboration and entrepreneurialism. The same approach that makes our firm attractive to legal practitioners interested in representing clients in the middle market, also gives clients access to experienced counsel in almost every area of the law and in many jurisdictions in the U.S. and abroad
Subscribe and follow us on our Blog, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. You can also sign up to receive LawMatters, Offit Kurman’s monthly newsletter covering a diverse selection of legal and corporate thought leadership content.
DELAWARE | MARYLAND | NEW JERSEY | NEW YORK | NORTH CAROLINA | PENNSYLVANIA |SOUTH CAROLINA | VIRGINIA | WASHINGTON, DC