COVID-19: Impacts on Employees and Small Businesses
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COVID-19: Impacts on Employees and Small Businesses

| Jun 10, 2020 | Firm News |

COVID-19: Impacts on Employees and Small Businesses

    • I. CORONA VIRUS AID, RELIEF AND SECUIRTY ACT (CARES ACT)

     A.        CARES ACT Stimulus Check

        1. Individuals earning $75,000 or less get a one-time stimulus check based upon 2018 or 2019 tax returns, plus $500 for each child under 17

     

        1. Stimulus payment phased out through $99,000. Individuals earning > $99,000 receive no stimulus check

     

        1. File your 2019 Income Tax return

     

    B.       State Unemployment Benefits

     

        1. Current cap – $640 – under state formula typically – replaces 25 -35% of employee wages
        2. Inapplicable to independent contractors, self-employed
        3. Normally unemployed individual must be able to work and actively seek work to be physically able to work
        4. Lamont has waived the requirement that unemployed persons actively seek work or be physically able to work.

     

    C.     Expanded Unemployment Benefits Under CARES Act

     

        1. Increases unemployment benefits by $600 for unemployed workers for an additional 13 weeks
        2. Waives 1 week waiting period
        3. Expands coverage for self-employed, independent contractors (gig workers, drivers) and furloughed workers
        4. Under CARES Act, EEs earning less than $60,000 per year may receive more compensation through unemployment than their regular
        5. Expanded benefit period runs through July 31,
        6. State Labor Departments administer expanded DOL benefits*
        7. From DOL Website 4/1/2020:

     

    The CT Labor Department is working diligently to analyze the federal pandemic relief details found within the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law on 3/27/2020. We appreciate your patience as we await guidance from USDOL, and work with technical experts to develop additional programming within the CTDOL Unemployment Insurance system to accommodate the new federal relief programs. At this time, we have no additional information regarding the timeframe within which we will implement these federal programs, but we are working hard to serve the citizens of CT and ask that you check these FAQs DAILY for updates.

     

        1. Issues with CT DOL administering these benefits

     

    D.       Partial Unemployment – Shared Work Program

     

        1. DOL Has Shared Work Program that allows employers to reduce hours and wages by between 10-60% and permits employees to collect partial unemployment
          1. Advantage to EE is retain benefits and reduction partially subsidized by State
          2. EE receives full unemployment benefit reduce by percentage reduction in hours/wages
          3. Advantage to ER is to reduce costs, but retain employee in some capacity
          4. ER needs to apply for shared work option

     

        1. CARES ACT Impact on Shared Work Program
          1. Cares Act provides additional federal funding for state shared work programs;
          2. CARES Act appears not to distinguish between persons applying for full unemployment benefit and those applying for partial unemployment benefit for purposes of receipt of CARES ACT $600

     

    II.              FAMILIES FIRST CRONA VIRUS RELIEF ACT

     

        1. Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL)

     

        1. Applies to Employers with 0- 500 employees
        2. Employee entitled to paid sick leave if:
          1. Subject to federal state or local isolation or quarantine order
          2. Advised by health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVI-19 concerns
          3. Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis
          4. Caring for an individual subject to quarantine order or has symptoms of COVID-19
          5. Caring for child if school or place of care has been closed;
          6. Experiencing substantially similar conditions specific by Sec. HHS
        3. Rate of sick time:
          1. Full pay if EE is sick or quarantined
          2. 2/3 pay if EE is care provider
        4. Duration of Paid sick leave – 2 weeks
        5. Cap on sick time payment:
          1. $511/day $5,110 total if EE is sick or quarantined
          2. $200/day $2,000/aggregate if EE is care provider
        6. ER cannot make EE exhaust other paid leave benefits before taking EPSL sick time
        7. Does not apply to Health Care Providers
        8. EPSL expires 12/31/2020
        9. ER paying out sick leave gets dollar for dollar tax credit

     

    B.     Emergency Family Leave Expansion Act

     

        1. Applies to Employers with 0 – 500 Employees

    NB: Regular FMLA applies to ER with >50 employees

        1. Who qualifies:
          1. EE must have worked for employer more than 30 days

    NB: Regular FMLA requires EE to be employed > 1 year

        1. EE unable to work due to need to care for child under 18 years of age if school or childcare closed due to Covid-19 emergency
        1. Length of leave: Up to 12 weeks (10 weeks plus two weeks EPSL)
        2. Amount of payment: 2/3 pay
        3. EE Notice requirement: As soon as practicable (No notice requirement)
        4. Job Restoration Requirement at end of leave
          1. ERs < 25 EEs: No job restoration requirement if:
            1. Position held by EE no longer exists due to economic conditions caused by health emergency
            2. ER makes reasonable efforts to restore EE to position

     

        • ER makes reasonable efforts to contact EE if comparable position becomes available within the next year
        1. Does not apply to health care providers
        2. Expanded FMLA expires 12/31/2020
        3. ER paying out expanded FMLA benefits gets dollar for dollar tax credit

     

    III.             Health Insurance Issue

     

        1. CARES ACT has provisions for providing coverage for treatment on Corona Virus
        2. Neither CARES ACT or FAMILIES FIRST CRONA VIRUS RELIEF ACT make any additional provisions for providing health care to laid off or furloughed workers
        3. Still need to rely upon: COBRA, ACA, Husky

     

    IV.              Stay at Home vs. Office (Can my boss force me to come to work at                        the office?)

        1. For non-essential workers: No. – Executive Order
        2. Few guidelines for how essential businesses operate
        3. Employer cannot force you to engage in illegal
        4. Order 7N – implementation of 6-foot separation
        5. No OSHA standards for COVID-19 yet
          1. But see “OSHA Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
          2. OSHA existing standards for use of eye protection, gloves, masks and respirators in the workplace
        6. If working in office not illegal, refusing to go into office is

     

    V.                 Americans with Disability Act Issues

     

        1. Permissible for health and safety concerns for employers to inquire about exposure and testing for corona virus
        2. Impermissible to terminate EE for contracting virus, record of employee having had the virus, or perception that employee had or has been exposed to virus

     

     

    Lewis Chimes

    Law Office of Lewis Chimes 45 Franklin Street

    Stamford, CT 06901

    203-324-7744

    www.chimeslaw.com [email protected]

                   CORONA VIRUS AID, RELIEF AND SECUIRTY ACT (CARES ACT)

               A. CARES ACT Stimulus Check

    1. Individuals earning $75,000 or less get a one-time stimulus check based upon 2018 or 2019 tax returns, plus $500 for each child under 17

     

    1. Stimulus payment phased out through $99,000. Individuals earning > $99,000 receive no stimulus check

     

    1. File your 2019 Income Tax return

     

    B.       State Unemployment Benefits

     

    1. Current cap – $640 – under state formula typically – replaces 25 -35% of employee wages
    2. Inapplicable to independent contractors, self-employed
    3. Normally unemployed individual must be able to work and actively seek work to be physically able to work
    4. Lamont has waived the requirement that unemployed persons actively seek work or be physically able to work.

     

    C.     Expanded Unemployment Benefits Under CARES Act

     

    1. Increases unemployment benefits by $600 for unemployed workers for an additional 13 weeks
    2. Waives 1 week waiting period
    3. Expands coverage for self-employed, independent contractors (gig workers, drivers) and furloughed workers
    4. Under CARES Act, EEs earning less than $60,000 per year may receive more compensation through unemployment than their regular
    5. Expanded benefit period runs through July 31,
    6. State Labor Departments administer expanded DOL benefits*
    7. From DOL Website 4/1/2020:

     

    The CT Labor Department is working diligently to analyze the federal pandemic relief details found within the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law on 3/27/2020. We appreciate your patience as we await guidance from USDOL, and work with technical experts to develop additional programming within the CTDOL Unemployment Insurance system to accommodate the new federal relief programs. At this time, we have no additional information regarding the timeframe within which we will implement these federal programs, but we are working hard to serve the citizens of CT and ask that you check these FAQs DAILY for updates.

     

    1. Issues with CT DOL administering these benefits

     

    D.       Partial Unemployment – Shared Work Program

     

    1. DOL Has Shared Work Program that allows employers to reduce hours and wages by between 10-60% and permits employees to collect partial unemployment
      1. Advantage to EE is retain benefits and reduction partially subsidized by State
      2. EE receives full unemployment benefit reduce by percentage reduction in hours/wages
      3. Advantage to ER is to reduce costs, but retain employee in some capacity
      4. ER needs to apply for shared work option

     

    1. CARES ACT Impact on Shared Work Program
      1. Cares Act provides additional federal funding for state shared work programs;
      2. CARES Act appears not to distinguish between persons applying for full unemployment benefit and those applying for partial unemployment benefit for purposes of receipt of CARES ACT $600

     

    II.      FAMILIES FIRST CRONA VIRUS RELIEF ACT

     

    1. Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL)

     

    1. Applies to Employers with 0- 500 employees
    2. Employee entitled to paid sick leave if:
      1. Subject to federal state or local isolation or quarantine order
      2. Advised by health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVI-19 concerns
      3. Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking medical diagnosis
      4. Caring for an individual subject to quarantine order or has symptoms of COVID-19
      5. Caring for child if school or place of care has been closed;
      6. Experiencing substantially similar conditions specific by Sec. HHS
    3. Rate of sick time:
      1. Full pay if EE is sick or quarantined
      2. 2/3 pay if EE is care provider
    4. Duration of Paid sick leave – 2 weeks
    5. Cap on sick time payment:
      1. $511/day $5,110 total if EE is sick or quarantined
      2. $200/day $2,000/aggregate if EE is care provider
    6. ER cannot make EE exhaust other paid leave benefits before taking EPSL sick time
    7. Does not apply to Health Care Providers
    8. EPSL expires 12/31/2020
    9. ER paying out sick leave gets dollar for dollar tax credit

     

    B.     Emergency Family Leave Expansion Act

     

    1. Applies to Employers with 0 – 500 Employees

    NB: Regular FMLA applies to ER with >50 employees

    1. Who qualifies:
      1. EE must have worked for employer more than 30 days

    NB: Regular FMLA requires EE to be employed > 1 year

    1. EE unable to work due to need to care for child under 18 years of age if school or childcare closed due to Covid-19 emergency
    1. Length of leave: Up to 12 weeks (10 weeks plus two weeks EPSL)
    2. Amount of payment: 2/3 pay
    3. EE Notice requirement: As soon as practicable (No notice requirement)
    4. Job Restoration Requirement at end of leave
      1. ERs < 25 EEs: No job restoration requirement if:
        1. Position held by EE no longer exists due to economic conditions caused by health emergency
        2. ER makes reasonable efforts to restore EE to position

     

    • ER makes reasonable efforts to contact EE if comparable position becomes available within the next year
    1. Does not apply to health care providers
    2. Expanded FMLA expires 12/31/2020
    3. ER paying out expanded FMLA benefits gets dollar for dollar tax credit

     

    III.             Health Insurance Issue

     

    1. CARES ACT has provisions for providing coverage for treatment on Corona Virus
    2. Neither CARES ACT or FAMILIES FIRST CRONA VIRUS RELIEF ACT make any additional provisions for providing health care to laid off or furloughed workers
    3. Still need to rely upon: COBRA, ACA, Husky

     

    IV.              Stay at Home vs. Office (Can my boss force me to come to work at the office?)

    1. For non-essential workers: No. – Executive Order
    2. Few guidelines for how essential businesses operate
    3. Employer cannot force you to engage in illegal
    4. Order 7N – implementation of 6-foot separation
    5. No OSHA standards for COVID-19 yet
      1. But see “OSHA Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
      2. OSHA existing standards for use of eye protection, gloves, masks and respirators in the workplace
    6. If working in office not illegal, refusing to go into office is

     

    V.                 Americans with Disability Act Issues

     

    1. Permissible for health and safety concerns for employers to inquire about exposure and testing for corona virus
    2. Impermissible to terminate EE for contracting virus, record of employee having had the virus, or perception that employee had or has been exposed to virus

     

     

     

    Lewis Chimes

    Law Office of Lewis Chimes 45 Franklin Street

    Stamford, CT 06901

    203-324-7744

    www.chimeslaw.com [email protected]