Federal Spotlight: Latest COVID-19 Aid Package Signed by President Biden

March 18, 2021

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 contains several measures related to employee benefits and employer-related issues. President Joe Biden signed this stimulus bill into law on March 11.

Included in the legislation is a federal subsidy that will help cover all COBRA continuation costs for up to 6 months for people who lost their jobs involuntarily or experienced a reduction in hours. Employers are currently not mandated to provide emergency paid sick leave or emergency family medical leave, as those requirements ended before the new year. Employers who voluntarily decided to continue providing these two types of leave would have continued getting a tax credit until the end of this month under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This latest piece of legislation includes a provision that now extends this employer tax credit for voluntarily provided sick leave or family medical leave through Sept. 30, 2021. It also adds COVID-19 testing and getting a COVID-19 vaccine as reasons for paid sick leave and paid family leave.

The American Rescue Plan Act extends the 100 percent federal reimbursement of regular extended unemployment benefits and provides additional funding to address fraud.

The bill also extends $300 weekly benefit provided through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) through Sept. 6, 2021.