There’s no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic has now disrupted all of our lives. You’re getting emails about it, you scan through masses of posts and articles in your social media; there’s just so much information coming at us so quickly. Integrity Data has created a COVID-19 Response Task Force to help you understand and provide solutions to the challenges you and our customers will be facing.
Below we have provided a one-stop shop of quick Coronavirus employer facts and tips that are easy to digest.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The DOL has published a helpful FAQ on the FFCRA.
The paid sick leave provisions from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) are effective on April 1. This Coronavirus paid leave law is for all employees no matter how long they have been employed.
Private employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers are required to provide paid sick leave to full-time employees that are unable to work (or telework) because of certain COVID-19 related reasons.
Work closures do not trigger the federal paid sick leave.
For guidance on managing FFCRA paid sick leave in Dynamics GP payroll, see this blog.
Emergency FMLA (E-FMLA)
Private employers with fewer than 500 employees and government employers are required to provide 12 weeks of FMLA to all employees that have been employed for at least 30 days and are unable to work (or telework) because their child’s school or daycare was closed due to COVID-19.
Exceptions for employers under 50 have been outlined by the DOL.
For guidance on managing FFCRA E-FMLA in Dynamics GP payroll, see this blog.
Employers with 500 or less employees are required to post this is a public location at an office and share with all employees via email as many employees are working remote.
Click here to access the DOL provisions or click on the image.
Employer form for seeking expedited advance from IRS to cover cost of Coronavirus law paid leave (if payroll tax is not enough) was also released in IRS notice IR-2020-57, March 20, 2020.
Note: If you take the employer tax credits outlined under the FFCRA, then you would not be eligible to use the amount for forgiveness on the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan under the CARES Act.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
Small businesses may be eligible for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan of up to $10,000 to cover immediate operating costs. The advance funds will be made available within days of an accepted application, and will not have to be paid back.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loans of up to $10 million per business (those with fewer than 500 employees). This would cover expenses till the end of June 2020. Loans could help pay for payroll costs, group health benefits, retirements, state and local taxes, interest payments of mortgage or other debt incurred, rent, and utilities.
- Check here for updates on state and local coronavirus small business assistance.
Note: If you take the tax credits outlined in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), then you would NOT be eligible for forgiveness on the PPP loan mentioned above.
Coronavirus employer payroll tax credits
To encourage eligible employers to keep employees on payroll during COVID-19 related hardships, the CARES Act outlines an employee retention tax credit that includes:
- Amount paid to employees for two different types of leave.
- Medicare tax paid on both types of leave.
- Qualified health plan expenses for employees on either type of leave.
See this graphic for a comparison of the FFCRA and CARES Act tax credits.
Federal Student Loans and Employer-Provided Education Assistance
The Act allows most holders of federal student loans to suspend their monthly payments through September 30, 2020 without any interest accruing. In addition, employers can provide a student loan repayment benefit to employees on a tax-free basis.
Employee Benefits Affected by COVID-19
Workers Compensation – Check with your Workers Comp vendor to know what your state(s) coverage is for COVID-19. Some states might cover the natural consequences of their jobs such as:
- An employee is working overseas and contracts COVID-19.
- An employee contacts COVID-19 and infects others in the office.
Remember to send employees information from your health plan providers of Teledoc opportunities.
Check your Benefit Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs) for benefit eligibility to maintain hours per week rules, especially as you are contemplating terminations, layoffs, and reduction in hours.
Health Insurance Benefits
Some health insurance carriers are giving employers the option to opt-in to a “special enrollment period” during which employees who had waived coverage would be permitted to enroll in the employer sponsored coverage. Check with your carrier to see if this option is being offered.
Keep in mind that COVID-19 is not a permitted election change under the cafeteria plan rules as of April 1, 2020.
Retirement Savings – These are optional if the plan administrator wishes to implement them.
- The 10% early withdrawal penalty (capped at $100,000.00) is waived for withdrawals after 1/1/2020 from IRA’s or retirement plans. Certain regulations apply.
- No required minimum distributions from employer-sponsored DC retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans or individual retirement accounts (IRAs), in calendar year 2020. This suspension is not limited to participants affected by the coronavirus.
- Current retirement plan loan limits are doubled to the lesser of $100,000 or 100 percent of the participant’s vested account balance for the next six months. Those with an outstanding loan from their plan with a repayment due between March 27, 2020, and December 31, 2020, may delay their loan repayments for up to one year.
Dependent Care Spending Account – Mid-year election changes can be done under situations such as:
- A change in employment status that causes a reduced need for dependent care.
- Any of the following events that change the employment status of the employee, the employee’s spouse, or the employee’s dependent:
- a termination or commencement of employment;
- a strike or lockout;
- a commencement of or return from an unpaid leave of absence;
- and a change in worksite.
In addition, if the eligibility conditions of the cafeteria plan or other employee benefit plan of the employer of the employee, spouse, or dependent depend on the employment status of that individual and there is a change in that individual’s employment status with the consequence that the individual becomes (or ceases to be) eligible under the plan, then that change constitutes a change in employment (e.g., if a plan only applies to salaried employees and an employee switches from salaried to hourly-paid with the consequence that the employee ceases to be eligible for the plan, then that change constitutes a change in employment status).
- An election change can be made when there is a change in cost of the care provider.
- A participant may also revoke DCA elections during FMLA leave.
I-9 – Department of Homeland Security is allowing Section 2 documents to be reviewed by video conference, fax, or email. Just enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical review delay in the additional information field within Section 2. When normal operations recommence, then employers have three business days to do an in-person review of the verification documents. Then employer will add in Section 2, the additional information field, and the date the documents were physically reviewed.
The CARES Act provides an additional $600.00 per week payment to each Unemployment Insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance recipient through July 31, 2020 and an additional 13 weeks of unemployment to help those who remain unemployed after state unemployment weeks are no longer available.
- Check your state emergency regulations on unemployment.
Other Helpful Resources and Tips for Employers and Individuals
IRS has a Coronavirus page with helpful links.
SHRM has great resource page for COVID-19.
Federal income taxes extended until July 15.
- Some states have followed suit, while others have chosen different deadlines/methods.
- Check all state Tax Day extensions here.
Privacy – Employers need to keep in mind confidentiality and non-disclosure with COVID-19 (potential ADA issues). Don’t identify the employee or employee family member that has been diagnosed by COVID-19. There are ways to go around this and keep your workforce safe.
Cybercriminals have taken the opportunity to exploit individuals during the COVID-19 outbreak. Check out this article at SHRM – Don’t Fall for Fake E-mail About COVID-19.
OSHA – COVID-19 counts as a known hazard under OSHA. Companies are obligated to protect their workforces as well as taking in consideration ADA to prevent unlawful discrimination and FLSA with complying with pay laws.
EEOC has issued new guidelines to address the ADA and Rehabilitation Act in accordance with COVID-19. The information can be located here.
EEOC has given green light to do temperature checks on employees with proper procedures. Check out this site.
Some Presidential Primary Elections have been rescheduled. Many states are also suggesting to try to do early mail-in voting if possible. Check with your state to see if your primary has been delayed. Here’s a list of primaries that have been postponed.
For help on strategies to keep your company stable during these uncertain times, QTI Group has published a white paper entitled “Cost Containment Strategies During Uncertain Times.”
Rest assured, Integrity Data and our COVID-19 Response Task Force is closely monitoring all of the latest information and providing guidance to our customers along the way. Stay up to date by watching our for updates to our COVID-19 blogs, and follow us on social media, we’ll be keeping you informed every step of the way.