Covid Sick Pay

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As of the publishing date of this blog, August 5, 2021, employers are still eligible to receive tax credits and funds to cover an employees’ coronavirus leave.  The provisions within the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) are both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  The FFCRA was set to expire on 12/31/2020, but the American Rescue Plan Act extended FFCRA and its provisions through the end of September 2021.

Our Answers to Common Questions

Am I required to comply with the FFCRA provisions?

Employers are not required to provide employees with FFCRA leave after December 31, 2020, but employers who choose to provide such leave between January 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021 may be eligible for employer tax credits.

With some industry standards, if your organization has less than 500 employees, you should still follow these provisions.

How much is the pay?

Check out our original blog from March 2020 for this answer.
FFCRA Blog

How do I get reimbursed?

If you choose to participate, you need to notify your payroll provider. Additionally, your Social Security taxes will be reduced by the gross pay (up to the per day cap) thereby reducing your EFTPS deposit.

Do temporary or part-time employees get "Covid Pay"?

Yes, for the family leave (EFMLEA), any employee who has been employed (been on payroll) for the 30 calendar days prior to the leave is eligible. This includes any time worked for the company as a temporary employee.

Can we use the "Covid Pay" to cover time off for our employees to get the vaccine?

Yes. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 expanded coverage to include leave to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine or due to side effects from the vaccine.

Can we use the "Covid Pay" to cover time off for our employees to get tested for Covid?

It is unclear whether you can apply FFCRA pay for an employee who opts to get tested during work hours.

However, if you require an employee to take their temperature, do a Covid-screening, or get a test to come into your workplace, you must pay them for the time to do those activities.

What if an employee was already out with Covid last year?

The 2 weeks of sick leave (EPSLA) reset at April 1 2021. Employees are eligible for 2 more weeks if they are sick with Covid or a medical professional has instructed them to quarantine.

Does the sick leave pay carry-over if an employee didn't use it last year?

No. You cannot combine leave left over from last year.

How does "Covid Pay" affect FMLA?

An employee gets a total of 12 weeks aggregate for Family Leave. Any family leave (FMLA) an employee has already taken in the employer’s FMLA year reduces the amount of FMLA leave the employee has available under EFMLEA.

What if my employee is sick (or has a sick child) but they've used all their eligible days?

An employee can elect to use other paid leave that is applicable, although these other benefits are not eligible for tax credits. As an employer, you may not require an employee to use other paid leave during this two-week period. If sick pay (EPSLA) is not available, the initial two weeks of family pay (EFMLEA) may be unpaid.

Can I use "Covid Pay" for key personnel only?

No you may not. If you offer the FFCRA provisions to one employee, you need to offer it to everyone.

Opt Out Eligibility

What are the benefits of opting out?

We can't think of many.

If your employee is sick, do you want them at work potentially making others sick?

Should I ask my employee to use their PTO first?

There's no reason to require someone to use PTO for this.

The government is going to repay you for the gross pay for these workers- up to $511 per day for up to 2 weeks - and this does not go against the employees sick pay.

Additionally, you will receive an immediate reduction in Social Security taxes due since your payroll is being reduced.

What organizations are exempt?

Employers of healthcare and first responder organizations have always been exempt from these provisions.

There is also an exception of a small business of less than 50 employees.

Is there a small business exemption?

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from the leave for school or childcare closures* when the imposition of such leave requirements would jeopardize the ongoing viability of the business.

To elect this small business exemption, the employer must document proof and retain the records for 4 years.

*This is not an exemption from the sick pay (EPSLA).

Eligible Small Business Exemption Reasons

Providing the leave “would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity”.

“The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities.”

“There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.”

Answers to Questions from Employees

Am I eligible for the Sick Leave Pay?

You must have been employed (on payroll) for the 30 calendar days prior to the leave (including any time worked for the company as a temporary employee).

What do I do if my employer can't opt out, but still refuses to cover "Covid pay"?

First things first, use the link below to determine if you're eligible. If you are, on the last page, you'll find Department of Labor contact information.
DOL Online Tool

Covid-19 Response Team

At the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic, this team was formed to help get answers to questions as quickly as possible. From explaining legislation, to filing PPP claims, to working on our client’s “comeback” plans, we’ve been here and will continue to be here.  With any questions, our clients are always welcome to contact us at [email protected]

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