As I am sitting here writing this blog, Orange County, Florida’s shelter in place order has taken effect and begun. The coronavirus, or COVID19, is causing businesses to close, causing employees to be laid off, and generally wreaking havoc with our economy. This unprecedented, global pandemic, is affecting every country in the world. How do we combat this coronavirus, from a business standpoint, to ensure that when we can finally leave our homes, we have businesses to return to?
Two federal laws have been enacted that impact small businesses.
The first, is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or FFCRA which creates paid medical leave for all employers with fewer than 500 employees. Employees can get 2 weeks or 80 hours of paid leave at full salary (up to $511 per day or a total of $5,110) if they are quarantined or if they have symptoms of COVID-19. They are eligible for at least two weeks or 80 hours of paid leave at 2/3 salary (up to $200 per day or a total of $2,000) if they are caring for someone in quarantine or for a child whose school has closed. Employees may also be eligible for an additional 10 weeks (for a total of 12) at 2/3 salary to care for a child (the 12-week total is capped at $12,000) if they have been employed for more than 30 days. In order to receive these benefits, eligible employees must have been working for at least 30 days prior to the leave request. If a business has under 50 employees, the business will be able to request an exemption from this additional leave requirement and we will update this post when the Department of Labor releases its regulations.
Along with the enactment of the FFCRA, required posters have been released that must be posted at the business. For convenience, we have made them available to you on our page. This posting requirement is different and a business cannot simply hang it with its other posters. If any of your employees are working from home, then you will need to email or mail it to those that are not at the place of business. As a business owner, you should also be aware that there are tax credits that will reimburse you for any money that you have pay out.
The second new law is the CARES Act. While this law will be best known for the $1,200 stimulus checks that the government is sending out, it provides for businesses as well. First, it provides payroll tax credits for any business that does not fire its employees. In order to qualify for these tax credits, you will need to be under a shut-down order or have lost more than 50% of your business from this time last year. There are other qualifications as well, including salary caps and definitions of who is a qualified employee under this act.
The Small Business Association, or SBA, is also making business loans available through all of its private lenders. These disaster loans will be available for employers to pay employees, make rent or mortgage payments, pay utilities, and pay down other debts. And they will be forgivable so long as they are used for those purposes. These loans will be crucial to assist businesses in staying open, especially while mandatory shut-down orders are in place. In order to qualify for these loans, you will need to be able to show how your business was affected by the coronavirus.
The legal landscape surrounding businesses and COVID19 is changing quickly. We will continue to stay current and be a resource for our clients as best we can. We recently did a webinar on this topic. However, as things change, we want to be a resource for you. Please call or email if you have any questions and let us know how we may help you.