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What Employers Need to Know About the COVID-19 CARES Act

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act aims to help employers keep workers on their payrolls and provide economic stability while businesses across the nation suffer due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

In December 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA), amended many provisions of the CARES Act. In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) made further amendments to the CARES Act and CAA. All of the amendments are incorporated below.

The CARES Act includes several employment related provisions, including:

  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) corrections and clarification of the caps for payment of FFCRA leave;
  • Employee Retention Credit (ERC);
  • Deferred payroll tax deposits;
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP);
  • Expanded employer-provided student loan assistance;
  • Suspended student loan collections;
  • Expanded unemployment insurance program;
  • Health care benefit plan rule changes;
  • Retirement plan special rules; and
  • Expanded US Department of Labor authority to postpone certain deadlines.

Additional provisions directed at the health care system (e.g., coverage and pricing for diagnostic testing, support for health care providers, nursing workforce development) are mentioned only tangentially in this resource.