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16 Mar

March 2021: New COVID-19 Stimulus Bill: The American Rescue Plan

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Congress Passes American Rescue Plan

Update Applicable to:
All employers operating within the United States.

What happened?
The American Rescue Plan, the second COVID-19 related stimulus bill, has passed with multiple changes that will impact businesses across the country, with a focus on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

What are the details?
Signed into effect on March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan impacts many aspects of the previous stimulus bill. Included in this is a revamped FFCRA, an extension to tax credits related to paid leave, and discrimination protections for workers.

The FFCRA has been revamped to again provide employees 80 hours of COVID-19 related paid sick leave, as well as family leave, effective March 31, 2021. This leave is still optional for employers to provide and is not a mandatory requirement. If used, the additional 80 hours of leave provided allow employers the option to utilize the 80 hours for tax purposes. Additionally, the FFCRA will now cover individuals taking leave to attend vaccine appointments, as well as dealing with complications due to receiving the vaccine. Employers will again enjoy the tax benefits when utilizing the federal paid sick leave, extending their usage to September 30, 2021.

The updates to the FFCRA will also include protection for workers in the form of a non-discriminatory clause related to the denial of COVID-19 paid sick leave usage. Employers will no longer be able to claim the provided tax credit if they do not uniformly provide leave to all employees. Businesses will be barred from the tax credit if they are found to be providing the paid sick leave to only certain categories of workers instead of their entire workforce.

Additional reading on the American Rescue Plan can be found from multiple sources: Husch Blackwell, Fisher Phillips, HR Drive, Morgan Lewis, and SHRM.

What do employers need to do?
Employers utilizing the FFCRA leave should update their workplace leave policies to reflect the new requirements of the bill.  If you have any questions regarding this update, please contact your human resource or client relations representatives.


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