COVID-19 Update January 22, 2021

  • News

President Biden has had a busy first week in office, signing off on a series of executive orders, memorandums, directives, and proclamations. That said, bear with us as we have a lot to cover today, and be sure to register for our upcoming Dialed in with Delta webinar where we will be reviewing all legislative changes under the Biden administration that affect the workplace.

Hours after taking the oath, President Biden took bold actions that followed through on some of the promises he made during his campaign. Here is a fact sheet that provides an overview of some of these measures. SHRM has released several articles, as well, including Biden’s proposal for providing subsidized COBRA coverage, Biden’s plan for legalizing millions of undocumented workers, and Biden’s directives to promote racial equity and champion pandemic measures.

On our NAPEO federal affairs call, we received some valuable information about the second round of PPP loans, particularly regarding eligibility and the latest regulations. Fortunately, the Small Business Administration (SBA) seems to be more in tune with the details in a quicker manner than the last round.

On Tuesday, the SBA and Treasury updated guidance that answered many of the questions that needed further clarification, along with a new 3508S form for PPP loan forgiveness. Meanwhile, the IRS is not so swift as to the latest Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) details. Remember, you can’t use the same payrolls that you paid through the PPP loans that you plan to use for any ERTC refunds. The rules are different for trying to get these credits for 2020 vs 2021. Thus, the stimulus legislation passed in late December allows companies the opportunity to take advantage of both PPP and ETRC for both 2020 and 2021.

If you did qualify for the first round of PPP and did not take it or gave the money back, and now believe you qualify under the new regulations, you can go back and apply again for the 1st round of PPP loans. However, if you already requested the forgiveness and want to change the information so you could have access to other tax credits, you are not allowed to do so. This basically means in the first round of forgiveness you need to try and use the 60/40 rule to your advantage. The less you use in PPP loan forgiveness in payroll may make it eligible for the ERTC in later quarters in 2020, depending on you your drop in revenue. We understand that this is all very confusing. Delta’s resources can help you walk through if you qualify or not (not compile your paperwork), so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Yesterday, President Biden issued an executive order directing the Department of Labor to review current Occupational Safety and Health guidance on COVID-19 and to study whether OSHA should issue an emergency temporary standard on masks in the workplace. Specifically, Section 2 of the Executive Order provides that within two weeks of the order (February 4, 2021), the Secretary of Labor, acting through the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA (who at this point are both acting career federal officials, not Senate-confirmed political appointees)

For 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor published a final rule setting forth the following adjustments to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) civil penalty amounts based on cost-of-living adjustments:

  • OSHA’s maximum penalties for serious and other-than-serious violations will increase from $13,494 per violation to $13,653 per violation.
  • The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $134,937 per violation to $136,532 per violation.
  • Posting violations increased from $13,494 per violation to $13,653 per violation.
  • Failure to abate violations increased from $13,494 per day to $13,653 per day.

These OSHA civil penalty adjustments became effective January 15, 2021.

Lastly, in Louisiana, nearly 41,000 residents have received both doses of the vaccine (0.9% of the total population) while another 260,453 residents have received their first dose (5.6% of the total population). For more information on the roll-out plan for our home state, head to the LA Dept of Health website.

Have a great weekend!

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