The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) extends tax credits available to covered employers who provide qualified sick and family leave wages (within the meaning of ARPA) to their employees between April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently updated its FAQs on the Paid Sick and Paid Family Leave credits to now include within the definition of qualified sick and family leave wages, wages paid for leave taken by employees to accompany individuals to COVID-19 vaccination appointments, and to care for individuals recovering from COVID-19 vaccine-related illnesses.

Specifically, the July 29, 2021 updated FAQs make the following key changes:

  • Qualified sick leave wages include wages paid with respect to leave taken by an employee to accompany an “individual” to obtain a COVID-19 immunization or to care for an “individual” recovering from any injury, disability, illness, or condition related to the immunization; and
  • An “individual” for whom employers may seek to receive a tax credit for providing employees with leave to accompany or care for someone following immunization includes: (1) a family member; (2) someone who regularly resides in the employee’s home; or (3) a similar person with whom the employee has a relationship that creates an expectation the employee would care for that person. The term “individual” does not include persons with whom employees have no personal relationship.

Covered employers paying qualified sick and paid family leave wages (including wages related to immunizations as described above) may be entitled to a tax credit for up to two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to $200 per day or $2,000 in the aggregate); or a tax credit for up to twelve weeks of paid family leave at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to $200 per day or $12,000 in the aggregate).

Jackson Lewis attorneys will continue to monitor changes in COVID-19 guidance and regulations in the workplace. If you have questions about the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 or related tax credit issues, please reach out to the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you often work or any member of our Disability, Leave and Health Management Group or Employee Benefits Group.

Beginning July 25, 2021, employees can use Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave (WPFML) to care for more people.

The law originally permitted employees to get paid leave to help address the serious health condition of any “family member.” That term was defined to include:

  • “Child,” including biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis, is a legal guardian, or is a de facto parent, regardless of age or dependency status;
  • “Parent,” including biological, adoptive, de facto, or foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of an employee or the employee’s spouse or state registered domestic partner, or an individual who stood in loco parentis to an employee when the employee was a child;
  • Grandchild;
  • Grandparent;
  • Spouse, child’s spouse, or state registered domestic partner of an employee; and
  • Sibling.

Under a new law signed by Governor Jay Inslee, SB 5097, the term “family member” in the WPFML has been expanded to include “any individual who regularly resides in the employee’s home or with whom the relationship creates an expectation that the employee care for the person, and that individual depends on the employee for care.” The term “family member” does not include a person who simply resides in the same home with no expectation that the employee care for the individual.

This change is part of a growing trend in Washington and elsewhere embracing paid family and medical leave.