March 20, 2020
NJGCA March 20th Coronavirus Shutdown Update
Events are unfolding rapidly and it has been hard to decipher much of the information coming from both the Federal Government and the State Government. The entire NJGCA staff has been monitoring the flow of information and has collaborated to communicate this info to you. Many members have left messages or sent emails. Please remember that the NJGCA staff is all working remotely from their homes. Phone messages may not be responded to quickly.
We can start by recommending the following: While Small Business low-interest emergency loans are becoming available, Governor Murphy has advised small businesses in the state to hold off another week or two in applying for loans, as a more generous loan program is being developed. If you have an SBA loan, you may not be able to apply for other loans that may be all or in part forgiven down the line.
Please keep in mind that we are continually updating the NJGCA web site with new information and you can keep checking there for faster updates.
***THIS JUST IN****
Governor Murphy has moments ago said that it is LIKELY that he will order ALL NON-ESSENTIAL businesses to shut down tomorrow night. We are relatively certain that gasoline and convenience stores will be considered essential and will not be affected. We are confident that auto repair will also be deemed essential and be assured that we are working to make sure of that. Our neighbors in PA have deemed auto repair as essential and so has the US Department of Homeland Security.
In our effort to bring you the most up-to-date-news regarding the Coronavirus, we have put together a list of federal and state benefits and programs that are currently being assembled to aid in the economic recovery process:
Federal (WASHINGTON DC) Updates:
Proposed Washington D.C. Senate Bill: Yesterday, the United States Senate unveiled a stimulus package that attempts to aid individual Americans, small business owners, and the overall economy through pumping nearly $1 trillion injection into the economy. Though final negotiations between Congressional leaders and the White House are ongoing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes to have an agreement in place by Monday. Please keep in mind that this is not yet law, but is being fast tracked for passage before being sent to the President for final authorization. At this time, the proposal includes:
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) H.R. 6201
- Signed into law March 18, requirements go into effect April 2, expires December 31, 2020.
- Applies to businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
- Federal Paid Sick Leave
- Employee entitled to paid leave if:
- Employee is under quarantine order because of COVID-19
- Employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine over COVID-19
- The employee is experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis
- The employee is caring for an individual under a quarantine (the individual does not need to be a relative).
- The employee is caring for their child whose school or daycare has been closed.
- For full-time employees, the paid sick leave is 80 hours. For part-time workers they are entitled to the number of hours worked for an average two-week period over the prior six months. If they were hired less than 6 months ago, then it is based on the average number of hours they would normally be scheduled to work over a two-week period.
- If the employee is using the leave for one of the first three reasons (they themselves are affected) they must be paid their regular wages, up to $511 per day and an aggregate of $5,110.
- If they are using the leave for the last two reasons (caretaking of someone else), then they are owed two-thirds of their regular pay, up to $200 per day and an aggregate of $2,000.
- Employer cannot require employee to find a replacement. Cannot require employee use another type of paid leave first (though you likely wouldn’t want to since this leave is being reimbursed)
- Retaliation against an employee for using this leave is prohibited
- Until guidance is issued by federal or State DOL, assume that these hours are in addition to the state’s paid sick leave benefits.
- Different rules: NJ required sick leave must be earned but can be used for virtually anything, no caps on pay. This leave can be used by any employee immediately but must be for those specific purposes listed above.
- Expansion of federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- FMLA currently only applies to businesses with at least 50 employees. New benefits apply to all businesses with under 500 employees. Employee needs to have been employed for 30 days.
- Covers an employee unable to work due to a need to care for a child under the age of 18 whose school has been closed or paid child care is unavailable due to public health emergency. This is the only reason that this type of leave is required.
- 12 weeks of leave, 1st 10 days are unpaid but employee may use other paid time, including the new federal sick leave and/or NJ paid sick leave.
- Full time employees: Pay is 2/3 regular pay for the number of hours the employee would otherwise normally be scheduled, up to $200 per day and $10,000 per quarter.
- Part-Time employees: Pay rates are the same as for full-time workers, but the time they are paid for is the average number of hours worked per week for the prior six months.
- Employee must be restored after the leave is up to their former position, except that a business with under 25 employees is exempt if the position has been eliminated as a result of the economic hardships of the pandemic, and there is no equivalent position available.
- Businesses with under 50 employees can get exempted by the Secretary of Labor if the requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business. Regulations to determine this are being written.
- All employers must post a new notice regarding this new leave, DOL has a week to develop this.
- Tax credits:
- Employer can take a tax credit against their share of the Social Security payroll tax for 100% of the money paid out in these new forms of leave. IRS is developing more rules on this.
- Tax credits are based on amount paid in each calendar quarter
- Tax credits are refundable, so if SS tax liability is less than the cost of the leave, employer will be fully refunded the balance.
For Small Businesses:
- Direct payments to individuals and assistance to small businesses to deal with the health and economic harm from the coronavirus.
- The package includes $300 billion for small businesses.
- Small businesses would be eligible to receive a loan equal to four months of their expenses. This could cover monthly payments for payroll, mortgage, rent, and debt obligations up to $10 million.
- Under the loan structure, part of the loans would be forgiven if the businesses maintain their payroll, from March 1, 2020 to June 1, 2020.
- Funds could be used not only for payroll support, but also for health insurance premiums, paid sick leave, and other expenses.
- Requirements will include IRS payroll filings, state income filings, financial statements, and other documentation.
- Small businesses may apply for this benefit between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.
- Please keep in mind, that there is NO DOUBLE DIPPING. That is to say that, if a small business owner already availed themselves of an SBA 7(a) low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19), they may not also obtain funding through this proposal.
New Jersey Updates:
- Individuals could receive $1,200 in direct assistance.
- Married couples would be eligible for up to $2,400 in assistance; with an additional $500 for every child.
- Financial assistance would be "phased out" for individuals earning at least $75,000, and assistance for couples phases out after $150,000.
- Funds are not available to those with joint incomes of more than $198,000.
The General Assembly and Senate unanimously passed a package of new bills this week. While action is still needed from the governor to sign, here is a quick breakdown of the bills which would affect you.
Other Important Benefits/Programs/Updates:
- A-3841/S-2300 would extend the due date for state income and corporate taxes to June 30, 2020. Federal income taxes have already been extended until July 15, 2020.
- A-3843/S-2283 will mandate health insurance cover any costs for testing and telemedicine associated with coronavirus.
- A-3844 would have mandated that for small businesses (under 100 employees) who had business interruption insurance on March 9th, their insurance must include the current pandemic as a covered peril. However, this bill was pulled from being voted on and its future is unknown.
- A-3845/S-2284 authorizes the Economic Development Authority (EDA) to make grants and loans during the current state of emergency, including to small businesses for the purposes of making payroll. It would be up to the EDA to determine the criteria.
- A-3846/S-2293 creates the "Temporary Lost Wage Unemployment Program", to allow individuals to recoup their actual lost wages due to an absence from work, as well as to assist employers who continue to pay wages to workers who have been ordered under quarantine. An employee would not qualify for the payments if they are receiving Unemployment Insurance payments.
- A-3848/S-2301 would prohibit any employer from firing or refusing to rehire an employee if that employee cannot make it to work because they have coronavirus or are being quarantined. They would need a note from a doctor certifying that was the reason for their absence.
- A-3865/S-2291 would prohibit retailers from accepting a customer's return of any food item during a state of emergency or for 30 days after it ends, out of fear the food items may be contaminated.
- Yesterday, we reported that you are still required to file your federal tax returns by April 15th but you do not have to pay until July 15th as the payment deadline has been extended with no penalties or interest. Today, this has been updated to reflect that the filing deadline has been extended to July 15 with no penalties or interest. You can visit IRS.gov/coronavirus for more information
- The lottery office is currently closed and will not be accepting walk-in claims and claims are “temporarily delayed.” Winners can still claim their winnings of less than $599.50 in person at any retailer. The office will accept mail-in claims, and will extend ticket expiration dates by 30 days for any ticket scheduled to expire from March 19, 2020 to April 5, 2020, with additional extensions possible.
Keep monitoring your email for continued updates. If something is URGENT we will send the communication using our Wild Fire Alert platform.
Please be safe and follow proper sanitizing protocols.
NJGCA MEMBERS HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO GET THRU THIS CRISIS