SS+D COVID-19 Response Team: Federal and State Update – COVID-19 Update March 25, 2020
March 25, 2020 | Sebaly Shillito + Dyer
FEDERAL UPDATE – SENATE AGREES ON THE TERMS OF A $2 TRILLION VIRUS RESCUE BILL
The Senate has reached an agreement to introduce emergency legislation intending to rush sweeping aid to businesses, workers and the health care system slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic; however, as of this writing, the official text of the bill has not been released. This economic rescue package is expected to give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits, and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to maintain payroll while workers are forced to stay home. The package also earmarks $500 billion for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries, such as airlines and hospitals, and $150 billion for state and local government resources. The House has indicated that it likely won’t vote on the bill until Thursday. Additional information will be provided as more details, including the final bill text, are made public.
FEDERAL UPDATE – DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ISSUES FIRST ROUND OF FFCRA GUIDANCE
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published its first round of guidance informing employers and employees about how to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020. The information provided by the WHD addresses topics such as: how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law. For more information, see the following:
Fact Sheet for Employers: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave
Fact Sheet for Employees: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave
Questions & Answers: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions
The DOL indicates that it will not bring enforcement actions against any employer for violations of the FFCRA occurring within 30 days of the enactment of the FFCRA (i.e. March 18 through April 17, 2020), provided that the employer has made reasonable, good faith efforts to comply with the Act. More information on what constitutes “good faith efforts” can be found at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/field-assistance-bulletins/2020-1.
FEDERAL UPDATE – DEPARTMENT OF LABOR PUBLISHES “MODEL NOTICES” TO BE FURNISHED TO EMPLOYEES
The WHD also published model notices (i.e. “posters”) of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that covered employers must post in a conspicuous place on their premises. The new notice requirement may be satisfied by emailing or direct mailing the notice to employees or by posting the notice on an employee information internal or external website. Copies of the new notice can be obtained from the DOL’s website at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.
FEDERAL UPDATE – FEDERAL INCOME TAX FILING DEADLINE OFFICIALLY EXTENDED
The Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2020-18, which allows taxpayers to defer federal income tax payments and filings for the 2019 taxable year until July 15, 2020. Estimated quarterly income tax payments for 2020 can also be deferred until July 15, 2020. This extension applies to individuals, trusts, estates, partnerships, and corporations. For more information about Notice 2020-18, visit: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-20-28.pdf.
STATE UPDATE – BWC ALLOWS EMPLOYERS TO DELAY INSURANCE PREMIUM INSTALLMENT PAYMENTS
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has announced that insurance premium installment payments due for March, April and May can be deferred until June 1, 2020. Coverage will not be cancelled, and the BWC will not enforce penalties for deferred premium payments.
ABOUT THE SS+D COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM
The SS+D COVID-19 Response Team was formed to provide clients, colleagues, and friends of the Firm updates for the foreseeable future on COVID-19 issues facing businesses, executives, and employees. Please let us know if there are any items/issues you would like for us to track or summarize.