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COVID Relief and Policy Updates for 2021

Written by Soo Yeon Lee, Esq.

With a new year comes new updates to relief measures and policies meant to help Americans in 2020. Read carefully to see which of these updates may affect you in 2021.

FFCRA Expired

The new COVID relief bill did not extend the FFCRA - paid Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFML), leaving them expired on December 31, 2020. This means that beginning on January 1, 2021, public employers of all sizes and private employers with less than 500 employees are no longer required to provide such benefits. The FFCRA provided a refundable payroll tax credit for mandated paid sick and family leave. The bill extends the tax credit through March 2021 for employers that continue to voluntarily offer paid sick and family leave to their employees.

Unemployment Benefits

The new COVID relief bill extends certain CARES Act unemployment programs. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program supplement will be extended from December 26, 2020 to March 14, 2021. However, the payment amount will be lowered from $600 to $300 per week.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which covers workers who are not traditionally eligible for unemployment insurance (such as independent contractors), will be extended to March 14, 2021. It also increases the number of weeks employees are eligible for benefits from 39 to 50.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who exhaust their state unemployment benefits, is extended through March 14, 2021. The number of benefit weeks will be increased from 13 to 24.

Stimulus Payments

The new COVID relief bill provides an additional round of direct payments of $600 for individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 per year. The bill also provides a $600 payment for each dependent child.