COVID-19 FAQ: Guidance in Keeping Your Business on Track Through the Pandemic
As the number of COVID-19 cases grows in the United States, the unemployment rate suffers — leading businesses to adopt a variety of employee-related measures to manage the effect of the pandemic. With so many changes underway, also comes misinformation and confusion. HR Affiliates is here to confront any business-related questions or concerns surrounding COVID-19.
Address Your Questions Proactively with HR Affiliates
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the economy is taking a big hit. In turn, small businesses are feeling the effects of the pandemic. We’ve gathered a list of frequently asked questions to help assist you further. Some of the most common questions are as follows:
1. What is the difference between layoffs and furlough?
An employee furlough is a suspension from work without pay for a specific duration of time — this can be either mandatory or voluntary. This is most commonly executed on a federal level, typically during a government shutdown — as induced by something such as the COVID-19. Employee layoff, on the other hand, typically indicates a permanent break in the employee relationship. Both employee furlough and layoffs often stem from financial losses as opposed to employee performance.
2. What happens with an employee’s benefits?
Federal law permits flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide insurance benefits during unemployment in situations related to COVID-19. Federal law allows states to continue to provide benefits in these situations:
- An employer temporarily stops operations due to COVID-19 (employees cannot work)
- An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work post-quarantine
- An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure/infection or to care for a family member
Please note that federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.
3. What is classified as an essential business?
Essential businesses include, but are not limited to the following:
- Life-sustaining retail
- Food, beverage, and agriculture
- Organizations that provide social services
- Gas stations
- Financial services
- Housing and construction
- Private, public, and commercial transportation
4. Who qualifies for the Family First Coronavirus Response Act?
A portion of this Act addresses paid leave for employees affected by COVID-19, while other portions of the bill address a wide array of concerns related to the virus — including an Emergency Food Assistance Program and coverage for testing of COVID-19. The new FMLA provisions apply to employees who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days. Typically the FMLA requires that the employee has been employed for a year, worked for at least 1,250 hours, or worked in a location where there are 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. The paid sick leave requirements would apply to all employees under covered employers.
5. How does unemployment function? How is it calculated? What about the extra $600?
Kentucky pays unemployment benefits every two weeks — those who have filed for unemployment will receive payment for their first two weeks 13 days after the initial claim. In effect as of the week of March 29 — those who have filed for unemployment will receive the weekly benefit they qualify for, in addition to $600.00 which is paid for by the federal government and not charged to employer accounts.
6. What about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is essentially an SBA loan designed to provide small businesses the opportunity to keep their employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic. The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. The loan is good for two years and has an interest rate of 1%.
Partners Throughout Every Phase
Our goal at HR Affiliates is to provide you with all the resources your business needs to operate during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. We want your business to come out of the global pandemic stronger than ever. We are consistently working to keep you up-to-date on the latest changes — on both a state and federal level. We are consistently updating our website to ensure your business receives the latest news relating to COVID-19.
Reach out to an HR consultant today to address all of your HR concerns.
COVID-19 Disclaimer: HR Affiliates cannot provide legal, accounting or tax advice and is not liable for issues, interpretations and discussions related to COVID-19. We are relying on general information that is made available and being revised or changing on a regular basis. The general information we provide is not a substitute for professional advice you should receive from attorneys, accountants or other professional advisors. HR Affiliates disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of provided to the fullest extent permitted by law. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this document without seeking professional or other advice.