New Federal COVID Law Includes Option to Offer Paid Sick Leave

I remember reading that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020. Do I need to pay anything to my employees who get sick with COVID 19 after the first of the year?

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and the Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFMLA) that were mandated in the FFCRA did expire on December 31, 2020.

Employer Choice

However, the new COVID-19 relief package that was recently passed by Congress and signed by the President provided employers with the option of voluntarily continuing those programs.

Under the new law, employers are not required to continuing providing paid leave, but may choose to continue providing the paid leave that would have been required by the FFCRA from January 1 through March 31, 2021.

Employers who were covered by the FFCRA in 2020 who choose to continue providing paid leave can continue to claim a tax credit to cover the cost of voluntarily providing the FFCRA leaves through March 31.

No Time Extension

Be aware that the new legislation does not increase the total amount of the tax credit available for any single employee. This means that the voluntary continuation of the paid leaves applies only to those employees who did not utilize or exhaust those leaves in 2020.

Each employee is entitled to a total of 2 weeks of EPSL and 10 weeks of EFMLA from the time the FFCRA was initially enacted in April 2020 through the end of March 2021.

If you have questions about whether you should voluntarily continue to provide these benefits, and/or who is eligible for those benefits, you should consult with your legal counsel.

Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at

Staff Contact: David Leporiere