Wow, what a difference a month can make. Last month the US economy was booming and employers were searching high and low for employees. Yesterday, the federal government released a report for the week ending March 28, stating that 6.6 million unemployment claims had been filed that week. Unfortunately, I know more are coming. Congress has responded by enacting a number of bills to help employees and employers weather the current crisis.
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The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed by President Trump on March 27, provides $2 trillion for financial assistance to individuals and businesses. Key to this legislation is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), providing forgivable loans to businesses in order to maintain payroll and keep workers employed at or near current wage levels. Businesses may also use the loans for other basic costs like rent, interest payments and utilities. Forgiveness is dependent upon retaining a large percentage of your workforce during this period. The application period opens on April 3 and we would recommend employers apply as soon as possible, since funding is limited and this is effectively free money.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was effective April 2, 2020. It provides tax credits to employers paying out monies for expanded family medical leave, and provides 12 weeks of job-protected leave for a worker that cannot work or telework because the employee has to care for a child, if the child’s school or childcare facility is closed. For employers with less than 500 employees, emergency paid sick leave of up to 80 hours for full-time employees is available. Sick leave is also available for those employees subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, those advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns, or those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis. Caring for others is also paid in some circumstances.
Another good resource is to visit https://www.scemployersblog.com/. While this is a difficult time, we will get through it. As always Kelly and I appreciate you listening to Survive HR.