With FFCRA leave no longer required, employers still should be flexible to meet Covid-19 absence needs

October 10, 2023

Employers are no longer required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to provide their employees with paid leave for specified reasons related to Covid-19.However, it’s likely some of your employees still will have to take time off from work due to Covid-related circumstances in the weeks and months ahead.That has left many employers wondering what to do when employees need to take that kind of leave.The good news is companies have options.Employers still can voluntarily extend FFCRA leave through March 31 and take advantage of applicable tax credits for providing that benefit for their employees. Another option besides voluntary extension is for employers to treat FFCRA requests before the end of March as requests for an unpaid leave of absence. In some cases, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave, may apply if eligibility criteria is met. Employers also could give their employees the option to substitute available paid time off.Situations may have to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

“As always, employers are encouraged to be as flexible as possible with COVID-related absences,” says Connor Cross, Syndeo’s Director of Human Resources. “Syndeo recommends opening a dialogue with employees who need accommodations due to Covid to come up with solutions that allow employees flexibility while also meeting organizational goals."

Many had hoped FFCRA benefits would be extended into 2021, but that was not the case with the latest Covid-19 relief bill, which was signed into law on December 27.While the FFCRA leave requirements were not extended, the new law gives employers access to tax credits for providing that type of paid time off for their employees.Covered employers that offer FFCRA leave can use payroll tax credits to offset the cost of offering those paid leave benefits. A National Law Review report notes the credits are available to employers who voluntarily offer FFCRA leave for their employees through the end of March.FFCRA was enacted in April 2020 and required employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide their paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for Covid-related matters. Examples included someone having to miss work after testing positive for coronavirus, being a close contact to someone who tested positive or parents needing to address childcare needs.FFCRA included the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA).EPSLA required employers to pay employees up to 80 hours (two work weeks) for coronavirus reasons. Employees were eligible for an additional 10 weeks of family leave under EFMLEA, which was paid out at two-thirds of a person’s regular wages.Hundreds of employees of Syndeo clients needed FFCRA leave during the eight months it was effective. Syndeo worked with our operations software provider PrismHR to create new pay codes and FFCRA reporting to help out clients track that leave and ensure employees were paid correctly.We, along with industry partners, continually monitor employment law regulations and advise our clients on how changes will affect their businesses.About us: As the Heartland’s leading employer services company, Syndeo partners with local business owners to help them minimize risk, improve efficiency and maximize profitability allowing them the freedom to focus on growth and fulfilling their mission. Syndeo fulfills its mission by taking on all of the HR responsibilities for our clients’ workforce, including employee relations, benefits, risk management and payroll.

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