The Mailbag: FFCRA leave.

Approaching the end of 2020, a key question for employers was whether Congress was going to extend the paid sick leave and paid family leave that was authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act last year. The FFCRA was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020.

The big COVID relief law signed right after Christmas said employers are not required to provide FFCRA leave in 2021, but may voluntarily do so. So, leave taken after Dec. 31, 2020 need not be paid. However, employers must pay for all eligible leave taken before then.

The U.S. Department of Labor clarified these changes recently by issuing this pair of Q&As on the FFCRA:

Can unused FFCRA leave be used in 2021?

Q I was eligible for leave under the FFCRA in 2020, but I did not use any leave. Am I still entitled to take paid sick or expanded family and medical leave after Dec. 31, 2020?

  1. Your employer is not required to provide you with FFCRA leave after Dec. 31, 2020, but your employer may voluntarily decide to provide you such leave. The obligation to provide FFCRA leave applies from the law's effective date of April 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020. Any change to extend the requirement to provide leave under the FFCRA would require an amendment to the statute by Congress.

    The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, extended the employer tax credits for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave voluntarily provided to employees until March 31, 2021. However, this Act did not extend an eligible employee's entitlement to FFCRA leave beyond Dec. 31, 2020.

    Information for employers about claiming the refundable tax credits for qualified leave wages can be found at

    With FFCRA expired, must employer still pay?

    Q I used six weeks of FFCRA leave between April 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020, because my childcare provider was unavailable due to COVID-19. My employer allowed me to take time off, but they did not pay me for my last two weeks of FFCRA leave. Is my employer required to pay me for my last two weeks if the FFCRA has expired?

  2. Yes. The Wage & Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor will enforce the FFCRA for leave taken or requested during the effective period of April 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020, for complaints made within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for both the paid sick leave and expanded family and...

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