New COVID law affects leave, COBRA, credits.

While the $1,400 checks grabbed all the national headlines, the new COVID relief law includes several provisions that affect your HR and payroll processes. Some of the key workplace provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act, signed by President Biden on March 11:

Extension of paid sick/family leave tax credits. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided certain employees with paid sick leave for COVID reasons. The FFCRA expired on Dec. 31, but employers have been able to take a tax credit if they voluntarily offer the leave through March 31. The ARPA extends the tax credit to Sept. 30.

The law also adds another reason that employees may qualify for the paid sick leave: getting or recovering from a COVID vaccination.

More reasons for emergency FMLA leave. Previously, employees could only take paid EFMLA leave to care for a child whose school was closed or when their caregiver was unavailable for COVID reasons. The law expands possible EFMLA reasons to include all situations that warrant paid sick leave.

New COBRA coverage and payroll tax credit. The law also give 100% premium subsidy for COBRA continuing health insurance--from April 1 through Sept. 2021--for your terminated workers (and relatives) who want to remain on your health plan.

Employers obtain the subsidy--to be passed along to COBRA...

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