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Emergency Paid Leave & the American Rescue Plan: What Happened & What You Need to Know

In March 2020, the federal government enacted landmark emergency COVID-19 paid leave provisions through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). These provisions gave most private sector employees whose employers have fewer than 500 employees, along with government employees, the right to paid, job- protected leave for a range of COVID-19 related needs. Recognizing this emergency situation, paid leave under the FFCRA was 100% paid for by the federal government through tax credits to employers (except government employers); self-employed people experiencing the same needs could also claim tax credits.

The FFCRA offered an invaluable lifeline to workers across the country. Unfortunately, the FFCRA provisions were temporary, ending on December 31, 2020. In December 2020, Congress extended the existing tax credits (for both employers and self-employed people) through March 31, 2021, but did not extend employees’ rights to take paid leave from work under the law.


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