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American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Takes Effect Today

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2021 | Firm News

Most Americans are familiar with the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “American Rescue Plan”) for the third round of economic stimulus checks included in the Act. However, it is also important to understand that there are other provisions of the American Rescue Plan that impact employees and employers alike,  many of which take effect today.

A brief summary of key elements includes:

  • Paid Leave. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) provided mandatory paid leave of up to 80 hours for employees who: (1) were subject to COVID-19 quarantine or isolation orders; (2) self-quarantined under medical advice; (3) suffered COVID-19 symptoms; (4) provided care for persons affected by (1) or (2); (5) provided care for a child whose school closed due to COVID-19; (6) or suffered substantially-similar conditions specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Maximum benefits ranged from 100% of wages up to $511 daily to 66% of pay, up to $200 daily.
    • The American Rescue Plan provides opportunities for employers to voluntarily provide leave as follows:
      • Although paid leave is not mandatory, employers may receive tax credits that offset the costs associated with paid leave.
      • New Categories for Leave:
        • Persons obtaining immunization or recovering from immunization;
        • Persons awaiting test results necessitated by exposure to COVID-19, or an employer’s request for testing.
  • COBRA Benefits. Employers must fully subsidize COBRA premiums for eligible employees between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.  Eligible employees are those whose termination or reduction in hours was involuntary and not for cause.  Employers may recover the cost of COBRA premiums through reduction in payroll taxes.
  • Unemployment Benefits. The American Rescue Plan extends federal unemployment insurance benefits for many individuals through September 4, 2021.  These benefits include:
    • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (“PEUC”). PEUC extends unemployment benefits for up to 53 weeks, through September 4, 2021.
    • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (“EPUC”). EPUC provides an amount of $300 per week to unemployed persons through September 4, 2021.  EPUC payments are available as a supplement to traditional state unemployment compensation.
    • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“PUA”). PUA is available to workers traditionally not eligible for unemployment benefits under state law, such as individuals who are self-employed, independent contractors, and workers who have a limited work history.  The American Rescue Plan extends PUA eligibility from 50 weeks to 79 weeks, ending September 4, 2021.

Contact Cavitch Employment Attorneys

If you have questions about how the American Rescue Plan impacts your business or your job, contact Cavitch employment attorneys Max Dehn, [email protected] and Madilyn Maruna, [email protected].

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