During this time of uncertainty, The Chamber will continue to provide you with the most up to date state and federal information that you can use for your business and your employees. We know you are being inundated with emails and it becomes quite confusing for us all. Our Public Policy team is focused on providing the most important resources available at this time to you, our members.
All of our Public Policy updates can be found here.
Please contact us with any questions you may have. Our contact information is below.
On July 17, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued newly-revised versions of its model Notice of Rights, Certification, and Designation forms for administration of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Revised forms are meant to be “simpler and easier for employees, employers, leave administrators, and healthcare providers to understand and use.” Employers are not required to use the DOL’s model forms (as opposed to FMLA forms they have created themselves), many employers find the DOL’s forms useful in navigating the process. You can find the formshere. Families First Coronavirus Response (FFCRA) Act: Emergency relief package providing funding and other changes to law to assist the Nation responding to COVID-19. Key elements of the $100 billion, bi-partisan bill are: paid emergency leave to workers, provisions for free coronavirus testing and bolstered unemployment benefits.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: Congress has approved $350 billion in emergency loans for small businesses to help keep their workers employed. In fact, if small businesses maintain or later restore their payrolls, they may not have to repay some — or possibly any — of the loan.
Here are resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA):
Paycheck Protection Program: Provides loans to small businesses to help them continue to pay employees and cover other business expenses during the COVID-19 crisis. All loans have a 1% fixed interest rate, require no collateral or guarantor (meaning owners don’t need to put anything down to back the loan) and will be due in two years with no prepayment penalties or fees. Loan payments will also be deferred for six months; during that time, interest will accrue. Qualified entities include small businesses and nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees.
DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR PPP IS June 30, 2020
The Chamber supports extending the application deadline and are told there is pending legislation to do that. Thank you to U.S. Congresswoman Susan Wild and her team for all of your assistance.
The SBA issued a new PPP short loan forgiveness application, Form 3580 EZ, which is designed especially for self-employed and other qualifying borrowers. The latest updates were necessary to comply with the changes implemented by the PPP Flexibility Act of 2020.
SBA has reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants. SBA’s EIDL program offers long-term, low interest assistance for a small business or non-profit. These loans can provide vital economic support to help alleviate temporary loss of revenue. EIDL assistance can be used to cover payroll and inventory, pay debt or fund other expenses. Additionally, the EIDL Advance will provide up to $10,000 ($1,000 per employee) of emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties, and these emergency grants do not have to be repaid.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are low-interest loans of up to $2 million to be used toward expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, such as payroll and other operating expenses. Eligible businesses must have 500 or fewer employees. The grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private nonprofits harmed by COVID-19. The advance does not need to be repaid and may be used to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments
SBA Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program: Enables small businesses that currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. The funding may be used as a term loan or to bridge the gap while applying for a direct Economic Injury Disaster Loan
SBA Debt Relief:Provides a financial reprieve to small businesses by automatically paying the principal, interest and fees of some current loans and microloans
Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act: The IRS has posted updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to IRS.gov providing answers regarding the Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act. The Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19
Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program: provides loans to businesses, with interest rates ranging from 2.5% to 4%. Unlike the PPP, the repayment term for a Main Street loan is four years and the loan can’t be forgiven. There are two loans available through the lending program: the Main Street New Loan Facility for new loans and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility for borrowers who have an existing small business loan from before April 8. Loans vary between $1 million and $25 million. The program is considering applications from businesses that made less than $2.5 billion last year and employs less than 10,000 employees. Businesses that are interested in the program should contact their banker Other Federal Resources:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released detailed reopening guidance for schools, child care facilities, restaurants and mass transit systems, read it here.
The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) announced the new COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program to provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to small businesses that have been economically impacted by COVID-19. The program is expected to open Tuesday, June 30. Information about the program and how to apply can be found here.
Under the program, $225 million is available for COVID-19 relief to small businesses through a distribution to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) for loan payment deferment and portfolio loan loss reserves, main street business revitalization grants, and historically disadvantaged business revitalization grants. Eligible businesses with 25 or fewer employees may receive a maximum grant of $50,000 so long as the business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and, if required, paid income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual or business tax returns; COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact and makes this grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant; the grant will be used cover COVID-19 related costs; and during the period beginning on June 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, the applicant has not and will not receive another grant under this state program.
The precautions and requirements that businesses must implement are outlined in the following documents:
Need Help Finding Workers? PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley is here to help provide you with skilled workers. The employment, training, and labor market services you receive through their workforce delivery system are professional, comprehensive, and on-target. These services come at no cost to you.To learn more about employment and training programs, call 610-437-5627, extension 136, or emailBEST@careerlinklv.org.
If you can’t find what you need there, the department asks that you email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to avoid a long wait on the phone
Employee Refusal of Work:
Unemployment Compensation is temporary income support for those whose jobs are reduced or lost through no fault of their own. To be unemployed, a person must have a loss in bothwork hours and pay or “earnings.”
As an employer, if you are continuing to pay your employees through the COVID-19 social distancing period, either in full or in part, an email can be sent to RefusalofWork@PA.gov to notify the department of such payments.
Spreadsheets can be attached to your email in order to notify the department of all employees that are contining to receive pay during this time. If you create a spreadsheet, it should include the full names of the employees, the last four digits of their social security numbers and details regarding the wages the employee received, as well as the weeks the compensation covered.
If you have employees who have refused to return to work after being recalled, or if you have offered work to an individual who has refused your offer, notifications can be sent to the email address above. In addition, form UC-1921Wis available to report these situations. Reports of refusal of work or recall are not limited to the COVID-19 emergency, and may be submitted at any time.
Pennsylvanians who have an expired Unemployment Compensation claim or have exhausted their benefits under an existing claim can now receive an additional 13 weeks of payments through the new Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensationprogram
The extended benefits will be available through December 26 for claimants who have exhausted regular benefits
If a claimant’s benefits have expired, they must submit an application for the extended benefit online or mail a paper application. If an individual has an open claim and exhausts their benefits, the additional 13 weeks will be automatically added to their existing claim. Applicants will receive the same weekly benefit as their regular rate, including the additional $600 per week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. Benefits will be available retroactive to the benefit week ending April 4
The federal CARES Act has also authorized Unemployment Compensation payments for people who are self-employed or working as private contractors. The application for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) unemployment compensation benefits for self-employed workers, independent contractors and others not typically eligible for benefits is NOW AVAILABLE on the Pennsylvania unemployment compensation system website, here's the link.
For questions about program eligibility and information about the documents you will need to provide when applying, click here.
For questions specific to applying for PUA, please emailUCPUA@pa.gov or call 855-284-8545 if you have issues with your PUA claim - Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
Unemployment Compensation (UC) applicants who were denied benefits will have more time to appeal the decision if they believe the denial was incorrect. Under normal circumstances, appeals must be filed within 15 calendar days of the mailing date of the determination of eligibility. However, due to delays created by the COVID-19 pandemic, appeals can be filed indefinitely for determinations issued during the pandemic.
State Legislation on our Watch-List from the 2019-2020 Legislative Session: House Bill 2376: Would place all retail stores that are not already considered a “life-sustaining business” in the “life-sustaining business” category and allow a retail business staffed by one employee to open for business as long as it allowed only one customer into the store at a time. Small retailers would also be able offer curbside pickup service House Bill 2408: Would exempt CARES Act stimulus checks from state and local taxation. Stimulus checks are exempt from federal taxes House Bill 2419: Would ensure intergovernmental cooperation throughout the disaster and recovery period by establishing the COVID-19 inter-branch Cost and Recovery Task Force House Bill 2429: Would allow the reopening of all lawn and garden centers, provided they adhere to establish social distancing practices and other mitigation measures House Bill 2489: Would require PA DCED to immediately issue a waiver to all outdoor and recreational activities that can adhere to the social distancing practices defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention House Bill 2506: Would allow establishments, in counties that are in the Yellow or Green Phase, with existing decks, patios, and courtyards to open those outdoor areas. For those establishments with parking lots but no existing outdoor seating space, the bill will allow those establishments to design limited seating in a designated part of the parking lot House Bill 2517: Would require a waiver to allow residential cleaning services to resume operations during the COVID-19 emergency, provided the follow social distancing and other health and safety guidelines Senate Bill 1154: Would grant an immediate waiver for licensed hair salons, barbers and cosmetologists to reopen for business House Resolution 836: VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON JULY 14 - Would terminate the Governor's the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency Declaration House Bill 2412: VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON MAY 19 - Would allow real estate related activities that can adhere to social distancing practices and other mitigation measures defined by the Centers for Disease Control to resume House Bill 2388: VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON MAY 19 - Would require the Department of Community and Economic Development to issue a waiver to the business closure order for the following types of businesses, as long as those businesses comply with health and safety guidelines outlined by the state Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: vehicle dealerships, lawn and garden centers, cosmetology salon and barber shops for hair services, messenger services, animal grooming services, and manufacturing operations House Bill 2513: VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON OCT 16 - would allow up to 50% of the outdoor maximum seating capacity in order to properly institute the CDC and State mitigation guidelines Senate Bill 327:VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON MAY 19 - Would had given county governments the option to develop and implement their own plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, following CISA guidelines. Under the bill, businesses already identified as essential could continue to operate. This bill would have established the COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force to include all three branches of government in the process of developing a plan to resume mission-critical functions, including the restoration of housing, transportation, education, and other public services, and economic activity to levels equal to or better than their pre-disaster conditions House Bill 327: SIGNED INTO LAW ON MAY 21 - This bill will allow taverns and licensed restaurants to sell mixed spirit drinks to-go Senate Bill 841: SIGNED INTO LAW ON APRIL 20 - This Bill will:
Reauthorize the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council and require it to study the impact of COVID-19 on hospitals and health systems
Allow local governments to conduct remote public meetings
Provide property tax relief by allowing taxing districts to waive late fees and penalties for property taxes paid by December 31, 2020
Allow school districts to renegotiate contracts with service providers to ensure payment of personnel and fixed costs during the school closure
Allow online car sales will resume, enabling PA notaries to perform online notarizations
Allow public and private residential and non-residential construction may resume following safety guidance coming soon from the Administration
These postings will be required to be clearly displayed at workplaces, along with publicly posted acknowledgement by the employer that the guidance is being adhered to. Flyers are available in English and Spanish: