|You may recall, the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) ended December 31, 2020. This provided benefits for full and part-time employees who needed time off for COVID quarantine or symptoms. Employees received up to 10 days of pay that did not impact an employee’s other benefit time. FFCRA also provided certain paid benefits for child care due to circumstances such as school closure. Effective January 1, 2021, employers were not required to extend the paid leave provisions of FFCRA beyond December 31, 2020. However, employers could voluntarily allow employees to take any remaining FFCRA leave through March 31, 2021. The Act did not provide additional amounts of paid leave under the FFCRA if employees had already exhausted their leave, nor mandate an employer provide additional time regardless of when FMLA timeframes reset (i.e. calendar year resets). Highland elected to voluntarily extend FFCRA benefits through March 31, 2021.
The most recent legislation is the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This latest bill to address the ongoing economic impacts of COVID-19 takes effect April 1, 2021, and lasts through September 30, 2021. Like the current version of FFCRA, it remains optional for employers to adopt. The main provisions of ARPA are as follows.Employees can take Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to get the COVID vaccine and to recover from any related side effects.Employees can take EPSL when seeking or waiting for a COVID-19 diagnosis or test result if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or if the employer has asked them to get a diagnosis or test. (Previously, time spent waiting on test results was not necessarily covered).Employees will be eligible for a new bank of leave on April 1. Full-time employees are entitled to up to 80 hours while part-time employees are entitled to a prorated amount.Highland has determined it will voluntarily continue to provide the same level of benefits provided by the American Rescue Plan Act. Relief funds are available and will cover this benefit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who do I notify for time off needs under ARPA?
A: Employees should notify their supervisor and HR. Employees will need to complete a form certifying the reason for needing the time off. HR will code as EPSL.
Do I need to provide verification of my vaccination or appointment?
A: Generally this verification will not be required. HR will ask if it is needed.
How am I paid for time taken for a COVID vaccination?
A: On or off campus during working hours: Time spent of 1 hour or less for each administration of a COVID vaccination is considered part of the workday. Off campus during working hours: Time spent of more than one hour. HR will code hours as EPSL.
Do I have to use 4-hour increments?
A: For approved time off under the ARPA, time may be used in 1-hour increments.
What if I feel too ill to work following a vaccination?
A: Time under ARPA may be used for related side effects of the vaccination. The maximum amount of time for any covered reason is 10 days. Normal call off expectations still need to be followed.