Information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be issued at a rapid pace. In order to stay up to date and access accurate information, employers and employees should utilize the resources below:
COVID-19 Resources for Louisiana
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Louisiana Office of Public Health continue to closely monitor this outbreak in our state.The information in the link below is updated once daily at noon.
For COVID-19 FAQs for Louisiana, visit Louisiana 211. You can also call the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing 211 or text the keyword LACOVID to 898-211 for regular text updates from the Louisiana Department of Health on the coronavirus in our state.
Gulf Coast Occupational Medicine and ACE Enterprises have supplied sanitizers and disinfectants along with medical and sanitation supplies since day one. Gulf Coast is performing a variety of COVID-19 screening to the industry with a focus on returning to work and putting our craftsmen back on their tools where they belong. Gulf Coast's goal continues to remain on making sure our sites are well supplied with anything they need to add a measure of increased safety. Gulf Coast will begin drive-thru COVID-19 mass testing to help clients make wise choices and the return the workforce to work. Along with supplies, Gulf Coast has taken industrial decon procedures and adapted them to the needs of law enforcement to allow them to use the knowledge that is taken for granted in our industry.
On-Site Medial Solutions is now offering COVID-19 return to work exams in the form of the rapid COVID-19 tests. On-Site can see you and your employees at their local clinic in Gonzales, or discuss their occupational medicine options. Call 225-644-6767 to set up an appointment or set up an account here.
PRIME Occupational Medicine has developed a comprehensive package of services designed to keep ABC Pelican members' workplaces safe during this time. View these services here.
Ochsner Health is keeping our community updated on health care resources during this time. Click here for those resources.
Ochsner Health has developed the Safe to Return employer solution so that we can be a resource to businesses across our region and help get our economy going again, Safely. In fact, over 150 companies have already reached out to us, asking Ochsner Health to help them develop a customized plan to ensure it is Safe to Return and to communicate that it is Safe to Return both internally to their workforce and externally to the public. We stand ready to help your business, too. Please call, email, or visit us on our website with any questions. Call 1-855-542-9108. Email employersolutions@Ochsner.org. Visit www.Ochsner.org/employer-solutions & submit Contact Form
Embassy Suites Baton Rouge is offering social distance compliant office space for business continuation use during these unprecedented times. Click here to learn more. This hotel is also offering ABC members an $85 rate for mandated emergency travel. Click here to learn more.
Many large insurers like United Healthcare, Cigna, Aetna and Humana are waving cost-sharing and copays for COVID-19 treatments. Read the ABC Insurance Trust brief that outlines these carriers and how they will cover related expenses.
ABC Insurance Trust has also put together a HR Toolkit for COVID-19. This toolkit provides comprehensive overview of the most pressing issues facing employers, including vital information regarding new federal laws such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, HIPAA privacy considerations, carrier response to the pandemic, layoffs and furloughs, tax credits and much more. Please note that due to the developing nature of the pandemic, it is highly likely that the guidance found in this toolkit will require updating. Every effort will be made to continue to provide the most accurate, up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 and employer compliance considerations
Gallagher has developed Return To Work Playbooks that assists employers in preparing to bringing employees back and how to deal with suppliers and customers that interface with the workplace.
CARES Act: On March 27, President Trump signed the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. This sweeping, $2 trillion coronavirus relief package provides immediate assistance to many Americans, small businesses and major industries during the ongoing pandemic. Below are the major takeaways from ABC National on the bill’s small business and tax provisions:
Paycheck Protection Program: The bill authorizes $2 trillion in federal funding for programs to support our nation’s hospitals and businesses, and the most critical of these programs for ABC and our members (a majority of which are small businesses) is the Paycheck Protection Program that authorizes $349 billion in forgivable loans from the Small Business Administration. PPP loans must be made during the period prior to June 30, 2020. *April 27 update on the additional $310 Billion in Paycheck Protection Program Loans: The U.S. Small Business Administration resumed accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders yesterday. Last week, additional guidance was issued by the SBA and Treasury on the second round of funding for the popular program:
The Small Business Administration has also limited how much individual banks can lend under the PPP due to the program's high demand among businesses seeking relief from effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Individual banks and lenders will now be limited to 10 percent of the program's overall funding, or $60 billion. The cap is intended is to help all lenders have equal access for their small business clients, the SBA said. For more information and updates, visit Treasury.gov/CARES and SBA.gov/PaycheckProtection.
The bill defines eligibility for these loans as a small business, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, a 501(c)(19) veteran’s organization, or Tribal business concern described in section 31(b)(2)(C) of the Small Business Act with not more than 500 employees, or the applicable size standard for the industry as provided by SBA, if higher. It also includes sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals as eligible for loans and allows businesses with more than one physical location that employs no more than 500 employees per physical location in certain industries, mainly franchise and food services, to be eligible.
The bill requires eligible borrowers to make a good faith certification that the loan is necessary due to the uncertainty of current economic conditions caused by COVID-19, and that they will use the funds to retain workers and maintain payroll, lease, and utility payments; and are not receiving duplicative funds for the same uses from another SBA program.
PPP Loans: PPP loans can be as large as 250% of a business’s average monthly payroll costs over the last 12 months, however, the maximum loan amount under this program is $10 million through December 31, 2020. It also specifies allowable uses of the loan to include payroll support, such as employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, insurance premiums, and mortgage, rent, and utility payments. PPP loans are made by SBA-certified lenders (over 800 financial institutions currently), in all 50 states, through delegated authority from the SBA. In addition, the SBA Administrator and Secretary of Treasury may further authorize additional lenders to join the program, as needed. SBA-certified lenders simply need to verify that a small business was in operation on February 15, 2020, and paid employee salaries and payroll taxes or paid independent contractors, as reported on Form 1099- MISC, for eligibility in the PPP. The SBA is required to issue regulations on the application process within 15 days after the enactment of the CARES Act, and ABC will be sure to provide updates on any agency guidance that comes out. ABC National recently sought clarification on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) eligibility from the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration to assure you, as a member, of the bill’s intent. The SBA and Treasury confirmed ABC’s interpretation of the Interim Final Rule (IFR) and addressed this issue in a release of FAQs for lenders and borrowers. The FAQs further state that borrowers and lenders may rely on the guidance provided in this document as SBA’s interpretation of the CARES Act and of the Paycheck Protection Program Interim Final Rule. The U.S. government will not challenge lender PPP actions that conform to this guidance, and to the PPP IFR and any subsequent rulemaking in effect at the time. Importantly: the FAQ clarifies that businesses do not have to qualify as both a small business concern AND have 500 or fewer employees.
Loan Forgiveness: Principal amounts on PPP loans, for the first 8-week period from when the PPP Loan is made, may be forgiven, if loan funds are used to cover payroll costs, interest payments on mortgages (not including prepayments or principal), rent and utilities. The amount of a PPP loan that may be forgiven cannot exceed the principal amount of the loan. The amount forgiven will be reduced proportionally by any reduction in employees retained compared to the prior year and reduced by the reduction in pay of any employee beyond 25 percent of their prior year compensation. To encourage employers to rehire any employees who have already been laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis, borrowers that re-hire workers previously laid off will not be penalized for having a reduced payroll at the beginning of the period.
Tax Provisions: Other critical provisions in the bill include tax provisions that will help businesses maintain liquidity through this national crisis. •Retention Tax Credit. Creates a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis. •Qualifying Employers are those whose (1) operations were fully or partially suspended, due to a COVID-19-related shut- down order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year. •For employers with greater than 100 full-time employees, qualified wages are wages paid to employees when they are not providing services due to the COVID-19-related circumstances described above. •For eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit, whether the employer is open for business or subject to a shut-down order. •The credit is capped at $10,000/quarter per employee, including health benefits paid. •The credit is provided for wages paid or incurred from 3/13/2020 through 12/31/2020. •Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes. Payment would be due over the course of two years with half due 12/31/2021 and the balance due 12/31/2022. •Modification for net operating losses (NOL). This provision would allow five-year carryback for 2018, 2019, and 2020 tax years, respectively. •Modification of limitation on losses for taxpayers other than corporations. The 80 percent carryback limitation would be lifted for pass-through entities to harmonize with corporate NOL treatment for 2018, 2019, and 2020. •Modification of credit for prior year minimum tax liability of corporations. This would accelerate the ability of companies to recover AMT credits in the form of refunds. •Modification of limitation on business interest. This would loosen the limitation on interest deduction to 50 percent of EBITDA for 2019 and 2020. •Technical amendments regarding qualified improvement property (QIP). This fix to the so-called “retail glitch” would unlock $15 billion in liquidity for QIP expenses incurred by hard-hit sectors like restaurants, hotels, and retail, among others.
In response to COVID-19 , the Federal Trade Commission has released a guide for consumers to avoid scams and fraudulent activities. For more information on how to protect yourself and your business from scams, click HERE for tips and guidance from the FTC.
U.S. Department of Labor Employee Rights Information
Families First Coronavirus Response Act--On March 26, the U.S. Department of Labor issued additional guidance explaining paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Federal Trade Commission has released a guide for consumers to avoid scams and fraudulent activities. So far, the FTC is reporting more than 9,900 reports of Coronavirus related rip-offs, worth an estimated $6.5 million. For more information on how to protect yourself and your business from scams, click HERE for tips and guidance from the FTC.