When the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was enacted in March, it had a built-in expiration date of December 31, 2020, based on early optimism that the pandemic, and the resulting need for leave, would be under control by the fall. Unfortunately, the number of cases is currently rising and schools are continuing to operate in a virtual-only capacity for the foreseeable future. As a result, it is clear that employees will continue to need leave similar to that provided by the FFCRA beyond its expiration date. As the nation has experienced the latest surge in positive COVID-19 cases, it’s become clear that employers will need to evaluate their business plans and leave policies going into 2021.
Assuming that legislation does not pass between now and December 31, what will an employer do on January 1? Unfortunately, the answer is complicated, and depends both on the reason for the need for leave and on state and local law. For example, in Maryland, there is no state version of the FFCRA. Instead, assuming that the need for leave complies with appropriate use of sick or other family leave, then employees will likely use paid sick leave if they are unable to work due to their own illness or a family member’s illness. However, if the employee is unable to work due to exposure to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is not clear that they would be entitled to use paid sick leave and any leave policy would be subject to the employer’s discretion. Similarly, if an employee is unable to report to work in-person due to school or daycare closures, the availability of leave or a modified schedule for this reason is likely to be subject to the employers’ discretion
To assist employers in identifying and navigating these issues, we’ve prepared a short podcast that discusses these issues in more depth, available here and below. If you have questions about how your business should address leave related to COVID-19 after the expiration of the FFCRA, please contact our Employment & Labor Law practice group.
FFCRA Expires on December 31st, 2020 – What Comes next for Employers?
Or, find more information like that in this podcast on our COVID-19 resource page.