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On Friday, March 20, the U.S. Treasury, IRS, and U.S. Department of Labor announced their plans for making the paid leave provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) less burdensome for small businesses. Key points include:
- To take immediate advantage of the paid leave credits, businesses can retain and access funds that they would otherwise pay to the IRS in payroll taxes. If those amounts are not sufficient to cover the cost of paid leave, employers can seek an expedited advance from the IRS by submitting a streamlined claim form that will be released next week.
- The Department of Labor will release “simple and clear” criteria for businesses with fewer than 50 employees to apply for exemptions from the leave provisions related to school and childcare closures; and
- There will be a 30-day non-enforcement period for businesses making a reasonable effort.
Business slowdowns related to the spread of COVID-19 have made it hard to imagine how they could bear any additional expenses. We encourage anyone with these concerns to read the full announcement.
Emergency Coronavirus Bill Signed Into Law March 18, 2020
About H.R. 6201 Division D-F | Emergency Paid Leave Act of 2020
H.R 6201 legislation provides paid leave, establishes free testing, protects public health workers, and provides important benefits to children and families.
President Trump was quick to finalize the Emergency Coronavirus Bill, H.R.6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act this evening, March 18, 2020 after the revised proposed bill made it through the Senate. Passed quickly through the House of Representatives on March 14, the Nation has been anxiously awaiting to see what this bill will mean for businesses and their staff. H.R.6201 will go into effect on April 2, 2020 and will date out on December 31, 2020.
Many small businesses fear the impact this could have on their financials at an already uncertain time. Under the bill, many employers will have to provide 80 hours of paid-sick-leave benefits for several reasons including:
• If the employee has been ordered to quarantine or isolate or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine because of COVID-19.
• If Employees use paid sick leave if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis,
• If they are caring for a relative who is in quarantine or isolation.
• Or if their child’s school or child care service is closed because of the public health emergency.
The first 10 days of emergency FMLA leave may consist of unpaid leave, but the employee MUST BE PAID for each day of leave after. Paid-sick-leave benefits will be immediately available when the law takes effect and capped at $511 a day for a worker’s own care and $200 a day when the employee is caring for someone else. This benefit will also expire at the end of 2020.
Exemptions to the Family First Coronavirus Act
Employers that are required to offer emergency FMLA or paid sick leave will be eligible for refundable tax credits.
• Employers with fewer than 50 workers can apply for an exemption from providing paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave if it “would jeopardize the viability of the business.”
• Gig-workers and other self-employed workers will be eligible for a tax credit to cover the benefits.
• Private businesses with more than 500 employees are not covered by the bill.
Work From Home Sample Policies, Official Workplace Posters, CDC information and much more. A Free Resource from tryHRIS.
What Should Employers Do to Prepare for H.R. 6201?
Employers Are Urged to Review Their Sick Leave Policies in Depth
Do employees have the right to take time off if they are worried about contracting coronavirus? Can employers take temperatures before allowing workers in? Is it fair to allow some to work from home and not others? What happens if we have to pay everyone but only half the workforce is able to work remotely?
HR and other business leaders are likely considering these questions and many others as COVID-19 makes its way through the United States.
What About the Government Small Business Loans?
H.R 6201 is sure to kick off the release of new funds into the Small Business funding programs currently making their way through government.
As of now the areas with small business loans available include:
State of California # 16332
State of Connecticut # 16335
Berkshire, Hampden, Worcester.
Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester.
District of Columbia
Montgomery, Prince Georges.
Alexandria City, Arlington, Fairfax.
State of Maine
Carroll, Rockingham, Strafford.
State of Montana
Clearwater, Fremont, Idaho.
State of Nevada # 16341
Cassia, Owyhee, Twin Falls.
State of New Mexico
Archuleta, Costilla, La Plata, Las Animas, Montezuma.
Andrews, Cochran, Deaf Smith, El Paso, Gaines, Hartley, Loving, Oldham, Winkler, Yoakum.
State of Rhode Island
New London, Windham.
Bristol, Norfolk, Worcester.
State of Utah # 16338
Apache, Coconino, Mohave, Navajo.
Dolores, Mesa, Montezuma, Montrose, San Miguel.
Washington State # 16333
Benewah, Latah, Nez Perce.
Gilliam, Hood River, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Wasco.
For continued updates and to see if your area has been added to the list visit the SBA.gov.
Doing Our Part to Assist Employers in Crisis.
Compliance can weigh down even the most experienced professionals, especially during times such as these. This is why we are offering small businesses 14 days at no cost to use our services and speak directly with seasoned HR Advisors prepared to answer all of their Coronavirus questions.