April 09, 2020 (UPDATE)
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued regulations to implement the paid leave mandates of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The regulations provide direction for administration of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA).
- Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act: Requires that certain employers provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees who need to take leave from work for certain specified reasons related to COVID-19.
- Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act: Requires that certain employers provide up to 10 weeks of paid, and two weeks unpaid, emergency family and medical leave to eligible employees if the employee is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
Employee Leave Request Flyer (NEW): We have created a new flyer that employers can provide to their employees who request leave under the FFCRA. The optional flyer summarizes the documentation that an employee will need to provide to their employer in order to substantiate the leave request. Click the following link to access the Employee Leave Request Flyer.
Required Notice: Each covered employer must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website. Click the following link to access the Required Notice.
April 08, 2020 (UPDATE)
Through provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), company benefit plans are experiencing temporary changes geared towards a more employee-friendly offering.
Medical Plan Coverage: UnitedHealthcare – the nation’s largest insurance company – and other large insurers are waiving cost sharing and copays for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatments. While each company differs in how long the waivers will be in place and what other costs will be waived, these announcements are part of a cross-country effort to help individuals access affordable care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
HDHPs and HSAs: Allows telehealth and other remote care services to be covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) before the deductible is met, without affecting the HDHP’s compatibility with health savings accounts (HSAs).
OTC Eligibility: Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, along with menstrual care products, will be qualified as medical expenses that may be paid for using HSAs or other tax-advantaged arrangements, such as health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).
April 01, 2020 (UPDATE)
On Tuesday, March 31, the Department of the Treasury released information and documents related to the high profile Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans covered under the CARES Act. Included in the release:
Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply.
Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply.
You may want to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap.
You can apply through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating.
March 28, 2020 (UPDATE)
President Donald Trump has signed the third and largest COVID-19 piece of legislation. The following bullet points summarize the key provisions of the Act.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)
- Expanded Unemployment Benefits
- The federal government will provide an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits – this is on top of what the state will provide to the person in regular weekly unemployment benefits.
- Example: A laid off worker in Illinois who was earning $577 per week in wages, would normally have been eligible for $272 in weekly unemployment benefits. With the $600 in additional unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, the unemployment benefits could increase to $872 per week.
- Companies with less than 500 employees may be eligible to receive a forgivable loan.
- Loan maximum is lesser of (1) average monthly payroll costs during the prior year x 2.5; or (2) $10 million.
- Payments under this program exclude sick leave payments made as part of the FFCRA.
- Direct Payments to Individuals
- $1,200 for most adults earning less than $75,000 per year (or $2,400 combined for married couples earning less than $150,000).
- Potential smaller checks for individuals earning between $75,000 and $99,000; and couples earning between $150,000 and $198,000.
- Employee Retention Tax Credit
- Refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of the wages on the first $10,000 of compensation.
- This tax credit is not available to employers that receive the “paycheck protection” loans.
- Available to employers whose:
- Operations were fully or partially suspended due to a COVID-19 related “shut-down order,” or
- Gross receipts declined by more than 50% when compared to the same quarter in the previous year.
Rob, Scott, and Jason podcast remotely from their homes and discuss the latest updates on COVID-19; from new laws that have been passed and what they have to offer to the difference between furloughs and layoffs, a breakdown of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, preliminary information on the CARES Act, and more.
Contact us with any questions you may have, we’re here to help: email@example.com
March 26, 2020 (UPDATE)
The Department of Labor (DOL) has released a new required notice (poster) related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act).
Click the following link to access the poster.
The notice is required to be posted in a conspicuous place on the company premises. You may also email or mail this notice to your employees, or post it on an employee information internal or external website. Although we recommend you post or distribute the notice as quickly as possible, we have also included a link to the notice on www.employco.com in the event your employees visit our website.
The DOL also released additional guidance which can be accessed by clicking this link to read the Frequently Asked Questions. A few of the significant FAQs include:
Do I have to share this notice with recently laid-off individuals?
- No, the FFCRA requirements explained on this notice apply only to current employees.
I am a small business owner. Do I have to post this notice?
- Yes. All employers covered by the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA (i.e., certain public sector employers and private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees) are required to post this notice.
We have break rooms on each floor in our building. Do I have to post notices in each break room on each floor or can I just post them in the lunchroom?
- If all of your employees regularly visit the lunchroom, then you can post all required notices there. If not, then you can post the notices in the break rooms on each floor or in another location where they can easily be seen by employees on each floor.
March 25, 2020 (UPDATE)
On Tuesday, March 24th, the Department of Labor released additional guidance related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act) and other COVID-19 related employment issues. Here is a summary of the key updates:
Has anything significant changed since the original release of the Act?
- The effective date has been changed to April 1, 2020 (it was originally presumed to be April 2nd).
Can you remind me what the Act covers?
- The most significant provisions include pay and job protections for an employee’s qualified leave of absence if the person is actively employed by a company with less than 500 employees and the employee is unable to work (or telework) for a reason related to COVID-19.
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of expanded family and medical leave at (100% of) the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis (maximum of $511 per day, or $5,110 total over the entire paid sick leave period); or
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor (maximum of $200 per day, or $2,000 over the entire two week period); and
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19 (maximum of $200 per day or $12,000 for the twelve weeks that include both paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave).
- Under the above scenarios, employers would be eligible for a tax credit against the employer portion of social security taxes not to exceed the specified limitations.
March 24, 2020 (UPDATE)
We have created an employee-facing letter that companies can use as a template to edit and distribute to their employees. The letter includes tips for employees to consider related to the COVID-19 crisis and their employment (employee benefits, paid sick leave, family medical leave, and unemployment benefits). You can download a copy here or copy/paste from below:
We want to take this opportunity to provide you with information and tips to help you during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis. Although we’re providing this to you as our employee, these tips are likely applicable to the general public in the event you want to share this with your family and friends.
If you would like to make a mid-year change to your benefit elections (e.g., change a dependent care flexible spending account) as a result of a qualifying event, contact us to request a copy of the benefit enrollment change form.
Most health insurance plans will be required to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related services to employees and their covered dependents, without cost sharing (like deductibles, copayments and coinsurance) during the national emergency period.
Paid Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave (at companies with less than 500 employees)
If you are unable to work or telework because of any of the following 6 conditions, contact us because you may be eligible for a certain level of pay continuation:
- subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
- experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis;
- caring for an individual subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order or advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
- caring for the employee’s child if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to public health emergency; or
- experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, please contact us immediately.
If an employee is subject to a lay-off, furlough or a reduction in hours, he/she may file for unemployment compensation. Unemployment insurance is a state-operated insurance program designed to partially replace lost wages when you are out of work. Visit your state’s department of employment security or unemployment insurance website for more information or to apply for benefits.
We recognize this is a time of great stress and uncertainty. We hope you and your family and friends are safe and healthy.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
-(INSERT authorized representative’s name, job title, phone number, and email address)
March 23, 2020 (UPDATE)
With the continuously changing employment and legal landscape, the following FAQs provide updated information to help employers work through the complex COVID-19 crisis:
What is the latest information from the federal government related to employees’ pay and leaves of absence?
- On Wednesday, March 18, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) into law. A summary of the Act can be found by clicking the following link to read our bulletin. The Department of Labor (DOL) is expected to release additional details on the Act on or before the April 2nd effective date.
What happens to our employees if they cannot work because we’re in an area that is subject to a state/local “stay-at-home” order (e.g., CA, IL, NY, etc)?
- It’s possible that, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employees could be eligible for 2 weeks of paid sick leave (paid by the employer) under the provision: “subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.” If the upcoming DOL guidance reveals that “stay-at-home” orders do not trigger the paid leave, employees may be able to use the regular employer provided time off benefits such as vacation, sick, PTO, to continue pay in the absence of company-provided wages. Employees who are subject to layoffs, furloughs or reductions-in-hours can apply for unemployment benefits through their state.
Can you provide more information about the Illinois stay-at-home order?
- Effective on March 21st, Illinois residents are required to stay at home at least until April 7, unless they are engaging in certain essential activities or operating an “Essential Business or Operation.” The executive order names 27 broad categories of essential functions and businesses, which partially includes:
- Healthcare and Public Health Operations;
- Human Services Operations;
- Essential Infrastructure;
- Essential Governmental Functions;
- Other Types of Essential Businesses and Operations
- Click the following link to view Governor Pritzker’s executive order and the full list of covered businesses (paragraphs 7 through 12). Click the following link to the view the executive order’s Frequently Asked Questions. If your company’s operations are not essential, ensure that your business is safe and that your employees have a phone and/or email address of someone to contact in the event they have a question or need to report a COVID-19 diagnosis.