President Biden’s almost $2 trillion “American Rescue Plan” is working its way through Congress. Several provisions of the Plan could significantly impact employers:
Minimum wage: The Plan would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over four years and end the tipped minimum wage and the sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities.
Worker safety: The Plan includes significant provisions designed to improve worker safety, including a COVID-19 Standard to be created by OSHA as well as additional funding for enforcement.
Expanded FFCRA leave: The Plan would extend the paid sick and family leave benefits of the FFCRA to September 31, 2021 and would require all employers to offer FFCRA leave, including health care providers and those with fewer than 50 employees and those with more than 500 employees. The ARP also would require up to 14 weeks of paid sick and family and medical leave and expand the list of parental caregiving situations that will be covered. The Plan proposes to reimburse employers with fewer than 500 workers the full cost of providing the leave.
Extended unemployment: The ARP would increase federal supplemental unemployment assistance by $100 a week, making it $400 a week instead of the $300 a week that was approved last year, through September of this year, and expand eligibility to independent contractors.
Miscellaneous: The ARP would also:
- Grant approximately $440 billion in support to “struggling communities,” including small businesses, Tribal governments, public transit, and essential workers;
- Provide $130 billion to help schools safely reopen;
- Expand the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund;
- Expand financial assistance to both childcare providers and families, including:
- providing a fully refundable Child Tax Credit for one year, and
- expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for one year;
- Provide another $1 billion for states for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (“TANF”) recipients.
Employers need to keep an eye on this Bill as it winds its way through Congress.