The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 is set to expire on September 30, 2021, ending much of the federal government’s pandemic assistance. For employers, the end of ARPA brings up a few issues:
- The end of COBRA subsidies: COBRA subsidies officially end on September 30, but plan administrators should already be preparing necessary notices to Assistance Eligible Individuals (AEIs) who took advantage of the subsidy and are eligible to continue their coverage past September 30, 2021. The DOL has created a model notice for the end of premium assistance. The DOL’s COBRA Premium Subsidy website also has a plethora of helpful information.
- Leave no longer subsidized: Under ARPA, covered employers could offer up to 80 hours of COVID-related sick leave in return for a tax credit. With the expiration of ARPA, employers will no longer be reimbursed for sick leave used by employees for COVID-related reasons.
- Fewer Options for Parents: ARPA optionally extended the Family First Coronavirus Relief Act’s extended paid FMLA protections for parents needing time off work because of a school or daycare closure related to COVID. As the new school year starts, parents will not have access to paid leave in the event of a school closure. Workplaces should consider implementing flexible work schedules, remote work, or unpaid leave policies now, as schools across the mountain states may face closures in the coming months.
Colorado employers should note that the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act is currently in effect and offers 80 hours of paid leave for qualifying reasons, including COVID-related sick leave or school closures.
In Arizona, employees can still avail themselves of sick leave in the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act. The Act requires that employers provide at least 40 hours of paid sick time per year to care for themselves or a family member (24 hours if the employers have fewer than 15 employees). At this time, New Mexico has no state sick leave requirements. However, as of July 1, 2022, employees in New Mexico will have paid sick leave under the Healthy Workplaces Act. As long as they have been accruing leave for 30 days, they can use accrued time at one hour for every 30 hours worked.
Presently, there is not a lot of movement towards extending ARPA. However, as with all things COVID, a last-minute push by Congress may result in an extension or a new statute. Keep reading our hot topics to stay up to date, or reach out to Employers Council for updates!