Several new relief measures have been provided to employers and employees in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such efforts include paid sick and family leave, heightened unemployment benefits, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), tax deferrals for employers, and more. Although it is uncertain what next year will bring, some of these measures end on December 31, as provided below.
Paid Sick and Family Leave
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave if an employee cannot work or telework for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The provisions of the FFCRA are scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
Heightened Unemployment Benefits
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides several forms of relief. One provision of the Act extended unemployment coverage to workers who are not traditionally eligible for unemployment compensation, including self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and gig-economy workers. Additionally, the CARES Act extended the number of weeks to collect unemployment. During normal times, most states provide up to 26 weeks of unemployment compensation. The CARES Act extended benefits for up to 39 weeks for most people. That provision expires at the end of the year.
Paycheck Protection Program Loan Requirements
Another provision of the CARES Act created the PPP. The program provided employers with forgivable loans to keep workers employed. Employers eligible for loan forgiveness could use funds to pay for eligible payroll costs, business mortgage interest payments, rent, or utilities. Initially, employers needed to spend funds within eight weeks after disbursement so workers could get back to work quickly. Subsequently, the deadline was extended to 24-weeks after loan origination or December 31, whichever was earlier.
Tax Deferrals for Employers
Other provisions in the CARES Act gave employers a choice to defer employment Social Security tax deposits and payments through the end of the year. The IRS advises deferred amounts must be deposited by the following dates to avoid a penalty:
-December 31, 2021, 50 percent of the eligible deferred amount; and
-December 31, 2022, the remaining amount.
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