The COVID-19 Vaccine and What Employers Should Do
As vaccinations ramp up around the country, many employers are grappling with the question of whether or not to grant employees paid time off to get their COVID vaccine. To quote a certain famous slogan, “Just do it.”
Employers should strongly encourage employees to get vaccinated. Offering paid time off to do so sends a strong message. PTO should also be offered if employees need it to recover from a negative reaction or other condition related to the vaccine.
As you likely know, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) required that certain employers provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, as part of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.
Then the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) extended employer tax credits for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave voluntarily provided to employees until March 31, 2021.
On March 11, 2021, President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law and extended the voluntary tax credit available through FFRCA through September 30, 2021. So, at the moment, there’s no mandatory FFCRA leave in 2021. What’s more, FFRCA eligible employers have more options to recoup their paid leave costs through tax credits. For those that choose to extend the FFCRA, these tax credits may cover the cost of compensating employees for the time needed to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine as well as compensating employees for the time needed to recover from a negative reaction or other condition related to the vaccine.
So the takeaway is this: while employers are no longer required to provide the paid leave related to the Coronavirus, tax credits exist for voluntarily providing FFCRA leave. So why wouldn’t you? You can easily make it a formalized policy by issuing a statement to your employees.
If you have questions, the IRS’ website for FFCRA tax credit FAQs for small and mid-sized businesses is a great resource. The U.S. Department of Labor also publishes useful guidance on the expiration of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave related to the coronavirus.