The IRS has announced an update to its FAQs for employers voluntarily extending FFCRA emergency paid leave provisions from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021.  It now provides a reason #6 for emergency leaves under the law, which was a catch-all to encompass “any other substantially similar condition” with no guidance to date on what that might cover.  Now under reason #6, qualifying employers may claim the tax credit when “the employee is accompanying an individual to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine or caring for an individual who is recovering from conditions related to obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine.”

“Under section 5102(a)(6) of the FFCRA, an Eligible Employer may pay qualified sick leave wages to an employee who is experiencing any other “substantially similar condition,” as specified by the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor, to a condition for which the Eligible Employer may otherwise pay qualified sick leave wages. The Secretary of HHS has specified, in consultation with the Secretaries of Treasury and Labor, that an employee who takes leave to accompany an individual to obtain immunization related to COVID-19, or to care for an individual who is recovering from any injury, disability, illness, or condition related to the immunization, is experiencing a “substantially similar condition” under section 5102(a)(6) for which the Eligible Employer may pay qualified sick leave wages.

The HHS Secretary further specified that, for this purpose, “individual” has the same meaning as was assigned to that term in 29 CFR 826.20(a)(5) for purposes of the FFCRA.  Thus, “individual” means an immediate family member, someone who regularly resides in the employee’s home, or a similar person with whom the employee has a relationship that creates an expectation that the employee would care for the person.  For this purpose, “individual” does not include persons with whom the employee has no personal relationship.”

IMA will continue to monitor regulator guidance and offer meaningful, practical, timely information.

This material should not be considered as a substitute for legal, tax and/or actuarial advice. Contact the appropriate professional counsel for such matters. These materials are not exhaustive and are subject to possible changes in applicable laws, rules, and regulations and their interpretations.