As more States start executing on Phase 1 (part 1 of three phases to 'Open up America again'), more businesses have or are preparing to open their doors to welcome customers again in the coming weeks.
The DOL have issued an alert with safety tips for restaurant, and food and beverage businesses to protect their workers from coronavirus exposure while they provide curbside pickup and takeout service.
On May 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today issued Frequently Asked Questions under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and revised COBRA model notices.
Plan administrators can use these model notices to notify plan participants and beneficiaries of their rights under COBRA and qualified beneficiaries of their rights to elect COBRA.
The revised model notices provide additional information to address COBRA’s interaction with Medicare. The model notices explain that there may be advantages to enrolling in Medicare before, or instead of, electing COBRA.
It also highlights that if an individual is eligible for both COBRA and Medicare, electing COBRA coverage may impact enrollment into Medicare as well as certain out-of-pocket costs.
The department is hosting a national online dialogue on “Opening America’s Workplaces Again,” to solicit ideas from the public on how best to help employers and workers reopen America’s workplaces safely.
The dialogue will run from Thursday, April 30 through Thursday, May 7, 2020, and will include a one-hour Twitter chat on Friday, May 1, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. EDT.
As the department continues to develop guidance and information to assist workers and employers, it seeks to draw on the public’s ideas about challenges that may be faced as businesses re-open.
Thousands of workers and employers have been in communication with the department since the start of the crisis, and this dialogue provides an opportunity for even more voices to contribute to the department’s ongoing response as circumstances on the ground continue to change.
Ideas and feedback collected during the dialogue will be used by the department as it continues to develop compliance assistance materials and guidance for workers and employers, and will be shared with policy-makers at the federal, state and local level as they develop and refine plans on reopening America’s workplaces.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released joint coronavirus-related interim guidance for meatpacking and meat processing workers and employers – including those involved in beef, pork and poultry operations. The guidance includes recommended actions employers can take to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
The interim guidance from OSHA and the CDC includes information regarding:
Cleaning of shared meatpacking and processing tools;
Screening employees for the coronavirus before they enter work facilities;
Managing workers who are showing symptoms of the coronavirus;
Implementing appropriate engineering, administrative, and work practice controls;
Using appropriate personal protective equipment, and;
Practicing social distancing at the workplace.
UPDATED: April 22, 2020
UPDATE: 2nd Round of Payroll Protection Program (PPP).
The 2nd Round of PPP has now been signed into law, adding an additional $310 Billion dollars to Payroll Protection Program.
The SBA will start accepting PPP applications against starting April 27, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. ET
SBA data suggest that much of the approved funds have been earmarked for the largest small businesses. The average loan size approved was $239,152, according to data released Tuesday, MarketWatch reported.
The three phased approach is implemented at a Statewide or County-By-County basis at Governors' discretion and based on up-to-date data and readiness at the local level.
The administration's 18-page guidance document details three phases to reopen state economies, with each phase lasting, at minimum, 14 days.
They include some recommendations across all three phases including good personal hygiene and employers developing policies to ensure social distancing, testing and contact tracing.
Some regions could begin returning to normal after a month-long evaluation period, at the earliest, according to the document. In places where there are more infections or where rates begin to rise, it could take longer.
Today, small businesses in the United States woke up to news that the roughly $350 billion dollar Payroll Protection Program (PPP) is out of funds and no longer accepting applications.
According to the SBA, 1.5 million applications have been approved to date totaling more $324 billion.
SBA recommends small businesses apply for the Enhanced Debt Relief, which is also available in SBA’s other business loan programs to help small businesses overcome the challenges created by this health crisis.
As of April 16, 2020, there is no date as to when or if PPP will receive additional funds.
The government will be regrouping in the next few days to determine the next steps.
Bankers and their small business customers can contact their lawmakers at (202) 224-3121 to emphasize that more funding is needed right away.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced an interim enforcement response plan for the coronavirus pandemic.
The response plan provides instructions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports.
The response plan outlines procedures for addressing reports of workplace hazards related to the coronavirus.
Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the coronavirus will be prioritized for on-site inspections.
The response plan contains procedures and sample documentation for CSHOs to use during coronavirus-related inspections. Workers requesting inspections, complaining of coronavirus exposure, or reporting illnesses may be protected under one or more whistleblower statutes and will be informed of their protections from retaliation.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) today announced the publication of Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL) 17-20, which provides further guidance to states as they implement the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program.
Under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, states can provide up to 13 weeks of federally funded benefits to qualified individuals.
The cost of PEUC benefits is 100% federally funded. States may not charge employers for any PEUC benefits paid. Implementation costs and ongoing administrative costs are also 100% federally funded.
The U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reminding employers that it is illegal to retaliate against workers because they report unsafe and unhealthful working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. Acts of retaliation can include terminations, demotions, denials of overtime or promotion, or reductions in pay or hours.
Workers have the right to file a whistleblower complaint online with OSHA (or 1-800-321-OSHA) if they believe their employer has retaliated against them for exercising their rights under the whistleblower protection laws enforced by the agency.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a new poster listing steps all workplaces can take to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
The poster highlights 10 infection prevention measures every employer can implement to protect workers’ safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic.
The release is the latest effort by OSHA to educate and protect America’s workers and employers during the coronavirus pandemic. In response to President Trump’s action to increase the availability of general use respirators, OSHA has issued a series of guidances that expand access to respirators in the workplace.
OSHA has also published Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, a guidance aimed at helping workers and employers learn about ways to protect themselves and their workplaces during the ongoing pandemic.
The Paycheck Protection Program, one of the most important provisions in the new stimulus bill, offers loans for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, select types of businesses with fewer than 1,500 employees, non-profits with fewer than 500 workers and some veteran organizations. Additionally, self-employed, sole proprietors and freelance and gig economy workers are also eligible to apply.
The CARES ACT makes select changes to taxes and tax policies in order to ease the burden on businesses impacted by COVID-19. This includes (1) business eligibility for employee retention tax credit (2) business and self-employed individuals ability to delay payroll tax payments (3)businesses ability to Net Operating Losses (NOLs) back five years instead (4) businesses ability to increase business interest expense deductions on tax returns from 30% to 50%. Partner with your Accounting Department or Accountant for details specific to your Business.
Click Here for additional information provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The DOL announced the publication of Unemployment Insurance Program Letter outlining relevant provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act related to the administration and eligibility criteria for state unemployment insurance (UI) programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for those not typically eligible for UI (such as gig workers) and expanded UI benefits.
PUA provides benefits for eligible individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for UI benefits under state or federal law.
Under FPUC prorgam, eligible individuals who are collecting certain UI benefits, including regular unemployment compensation, will receive an additional $600 in federal benefits per week for weeks of unemployment ending on or before July 31, 2020.
PEUC program allows those who have exhausted benefits under regular unemployment compensation or other programs to receive up to 13 weeks of additional benefits.
States must offer flexibility in meeting PEUC eligibility requirements related to 'actively seeking work' if an applicant's ability to do is impacted by COVID-19.
FFCRA was created to help the U.S. address economic impact due to COVID-19 by reimbursing American private employers that have fewer than 500 employees with tax credits for the cost of providing employees with paid leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
RCS unpacked this new bill in our Blog last week, read it here.
Wage and Hour Division (WHD) will publish a webinar on April 3, 2020 to provide more in-depth information on FFCRA. The webinar will be made available here.