COVID-19 Update December 16, 2020

  • News

Today, the EEOC released new guidelines for all things COVID-19-related, including ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, to help employers understand the mandatory requirements for the vaccine and how businesses should direct their employees. Please feel free to call if you have any questions or need help in introducing a new policy.

This afternoon, we had our final NAPEO Federal Affairs Committee call for 2020 with lots to share.

First, it seems that Congress is getting close to closing the next COVID-19 relief/stimulus deal (package 4) before year’s end, with both parties agreeing to keep it under $1 trillion. Nevertheless, everything is subject to change as the legislation is about 70% complete. Negotiators were finalizing an agreement that would include a new round of $600-700 stimulus checks (house arguing for $1200), enhanced federal unemployment benefits (extra $300 extended up to 16 weeks), and other avenues to deliver aid to states, localities, territories and Native American tribes. The agreement is not expected to include liability protection for businesses.

Additionally, they will put aside $300 billion for a new round of PPP loans with specific stipulations that benefit the hardest hit small businesses: under 300 employees and a minimum downturn of 30% lower than the previous year in revenue. There will be an allowance for COVID-19 supplies toward the forgiveness as well as the cost of preparation for the PPP forgiveness as a tax-deductible expense. The application process will also be simplified with a higher limit and anyone with loans of $150k or less should be automatic. Funds will be set aside for counties/parishes that are more economically distressed, as well as for other SBA programs.

Unfortunately, there won’t be wording in this round of legislation for a limit of liability on the federal level. Louisiana and other states have passed legislation to give businesses some guidance to extremely limit liability for any COVID-19 issues as long as you follow the CDC guidelines.

At this time, there isn’t any dedicated assistance for states facing added challenges with all of the additional unemployment payments. Meanwhile, most states have completely depleted their unemployment funds and are looking to the federal government for help. These states are currently allowed to borrow money out of the federal unemployment tax fund, FUTA, but will likely be reviewing other sources. Back in 2008-09, the last time unemployment climbed so high, many states had to borrow money and passed this cost on to the businesses as an additional tax.

Lastly, FFCRA and the Cares Act may not be extended as this was one of the cuts to make sure the bill stays under $1 trillion, along with any monies available for the states for unemployment relief. Based on this information, for anyone that has not yet requested forgiveness for their PPP loans, we recommend waiting until this next round of legislation is passed as it may ease the burden of qualifying for 100% forgiveness. As always, let the team at Delta know if we can provide further insight on PPP loans for your business.

SHRM released a few roundups on their best Coronavirus coverage that we want to share, including most-read employment law articles of 2020, most-read talent acquisition articles of 2020, and most-read payroll and benefits articles of 2020.

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