The American Rescue Plan’s Employer Impact
After months of debate, the House and the Senate have agreed on the latest stimulus bill, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. While the Plan does not include the most contested section of the stimulus – a nationwide $15.00 minimum wage–there are plenty of other provisions worth noting:
New Voluntary Leave
A highly anticipated change is the voluntary option to extend the Families First Coronavirus Response Act paid sick leave until September 30, 2021. If your Company is planning on implementing this voluntary leave program, your policy must comply with the law’s requirements. Over the past year, the Department of Labor has conducted more than 4,200 FFCRA investigations and employers have paid close to $4 million to more than 3,500 employees to resolve FFCRA violations alleged by the DOL. The most important aspect of this new voluntary leave program is that employees are able to take leave in order to be vaccinated – as we know, vaccination appointments are hard to get your hands on, so often times the only appointments available are during work.
The American Rescue Plan’s voluntary leave program contains the following:
- Employees are eligible for an entire new bank of 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave under the FFCRA beginning April 1, 2021.
- Employees may now take emergency paid sick leave for a couple new reasons:
- Time needed to be vaccinated;
- Time needed to recovery from any vaccine-related illness, side effects, or injuries; and
- For the time needed to wait for results of a COVID-19 test after the employee was exposed to COVID-19 and unable to work pending the results of the COVID-19 test.
- Employers with under 500 employees are eligible for tax credits for the use of paid sick leave. In total, an employer may claim a maximum of $12,000 total per employee for family leave wages, up from $10,000.
- There is not a new bank of leave for emergency family leave – but employees may use their new 80 hours of leave for childcare purposes.
- If a Company chooses to voluntarily provide this leave, it must be available for all employees – not just management or full-time employees.
We have crafted the American Rescue Plan Initial Compliance Package – a fixed fee solution to make rolling out this leave program easy and headache free. When trying to figure out how to organize leave plans and prepare for the impact of these new laws, we can help. Do not hesitate to reach out with questions and to utilize our American Rescue Plan Initial Compliance Package.
We have noted that President Biden has a goal of increasing OSHA investigations – and that OSHA is now investigating COVID-19 Safety Compliance. The American Rescue Plan provides $100,000,000 to OSHA to in part investigate employers that are not treating COVID-19 as a workplace hazard.
Worried about OSHA COVID-19 Compliance? Our COVID-19 Workplace Hazard Compliance Tools may be able to help.
Individuals receiving unemployment benefits will be eligible for an additional $300 per week through the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program until September 6, 2021. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides unemployment to individuals not normally eligible, will also be extended – individuals may not receive up to 79 weeks of PUA benefits. We have a new service to assist you with the growing unemployment burden: our Unemployment Benefits Audit Toolkit.
The Paycheck Protection Program is also getting a lifeline under the American Rescue Plan as the program is receiving an additional $7.25 billion. The PPP program is still set to expire at the end of the month, so applications will need to be submitted ASAP.
We Can Help! From FFCRA leave to Unemployment to Workplace Hazard Compliance and beyond.