Coronavirus in the Workplace

COVID-19 Stimulus Essentials for Employers

By Martin Kappenman - Peters, Revnew, Kappenman & Anderson, P.A.

December 29, 2020

On Sunday December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the second COVID-19 stimulus package into law.  The over 5,000 page Act has a number of important provisions that employers should keep in mind.
 
Families First Coronavirus Response Act “FFCRA” Requirements end on December 31, 2020.  But, Employers Can Still Choose to Grant Such Benefits through March 31, 2021 and Receive the Corresponding Tax Benefit.
 
The FFCRA imposed requirements on employers end on December 31, 2020 and employers are no longer required to comply with the requirements of the FFCRA.  Prudent employers will notify their employees that those requirements and mandated benefits will be coming to an end as 2020 concludes.   Those employers who voluntarily decide to extend the benefit through March 31, 2021 will receive the same tax benefit they received through the program previously.
 
Employers should decide before the end of the week whether they will be voluntarily participating in the extended FFCRA program and notify their employees how such leaves will be addressed in the coming year.  
 
Employers should further keep in mind that the fact that the FFCRA requirements are sun setting on December 31, 2020 does not relieve employers of various leave related considerations under the FMLA, Minnesota Human Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
 
PPP Re-Opened and Revised
 
The PPP program obtained over $280 billion in additional funding and is reopened until March 31, 2021.  Employers can receive a second loan eligible for forgiveness if they meet the following requirements:

1. Employ 300 or fewer employees.
2. Have or will use the full amount of the original PPP loan.
3. Can provide evidence that that their gross receipts in any quarter of 2020 were down 25% compared to the same quarter in 2019.

Those employers who did not apply for a PPP loan previously are also eligible to apply.  The program has been further improved by simplifying the prior overly complicated forgiveness application form for loans under $150,000.  It also expands the eligible expenses, which now can include supplier costs, compliance costs related to COVID-19, including modified business operations.  These changes may make the loan program workable for those employers who previously determined that they would not be able to benefit from the PPP loan.

Newly Issued DOL Field Assistance Bulletins
           
In other breaking news, The United States Department of Labor issued two new Field Assistance Bulletins today.   The first Field Assistance Bulletin outlines the method by which employers can meet the notice requirements of the FLSA, FMLA, EPPA and SCA through electronic noticing.  In short, the DOL is now more accepting of electronic noticing, but still generally views it as a supplement to, not a replacement for, posting a hard-copy format notice.
 
The second Field Assistance Bulletin allows telemedicine visits to establish a serious health condition under the FMLA.  In recognition of the greater role telemedicine is playing in the current environment, the DOL will consider a telemedicine visit as equivalent to the required in-person visit if the following conditions are met:

1. The examination, evaluation, or treatment is by a health care provider;
2. It is acceptable to state licensing authorities; and,
3. Generally, should be performed by video conference.

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