On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act. At $1.9 trillion, it is the second largest stimulus bill in legislative history. The ARP includes labor-related spending initiatives important to both employers and employees.
Employers should particularly take heed of the increased funding to OSHA for enforcement actions, which could indicate a potential increase in the number of audits and inspections, as well as additional scrutiny of whistleblower claims. The ARP also extends voluntary COVID-related paid leave benefits, so eligible employers need to consider whether they will continue to offer these benefits on a voluntary basis. Finally, employers should note that the ARP extends unemployment benefits, provides for COBRA subsidies, and delivers a new round of direct payments to Americans. Absent from the final law are a hike in the minimum wage, a paid leave mandate and the elimination of the tip credit, which were part of the original bill.
For more details about the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, read our alert on the labor and employment aspects here and the alert drafted by the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation group on those aspects here.