All posts in COVID-19 Resources
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
We hope that you, your employees, and your families are staying safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Labor has issued the attached poster regarding EMPLOYEE RIGHTS: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). All covered employers under the FFCRA are required to post the Notice in a conspicuous place on their premises by no later than April 1, 2020. An employer may satisfy this posting requirement by emailing or direct mailing this Notice to employees, or by posting this Notice on an employee information portal.
The DOL’s “Frequently Asked Questions” regarding the Notice are available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-poster-questions. In addition, the DOL issued an FAQ on March 27 confirming that employees who request leave under the FFCRA should be provided with the standard FMLA notices that otherwise apply to FMLA requests (“Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities” and “Designation Notice”), and employers should track the FMLA time accordingly. (See item 15 in the DOL FAQ: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions )
Please contact us as needed for assistance with any of your employee benefits needs.
Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.
Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.
Under this program:
- Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
- Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
- If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.
When to Apply
- Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply.
- Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply.
Click here to learn more.
Please apply as soon as possible as there is a funding cap. If you need additional information from the Treasury, click here.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Another option for small businesses is the SBA’s existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, which was expanded by the CARES Act and provides for longer-term loans with favorable borrowing terms. Companies in all 50 states, District of Columbia, and some U.S. territories are typically eligible for EDIL loans relating to economic injury caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be available until Dec. 31, 2020.
The CARES Act expanded EIDL loan eligibility for the period between Jan. 31, 2020, and Dec.
31, 2020, to include:
- Businesses with 500 or fewer employees
- Sole proprietorships and independent contractors with or without employees
- Private nonprofits and cooperatives
- Tribal small business concerns and ESOPs with 500 or fewer employees
If your business meets the aforementioned requirements and your revenues have suffered substantial economic injury from COVID-19, your business is eligible no matter your line of business.
Terms of the Loan
The terms of an EIDL loan are outlined below:
- The amount of an EIDL loan available to each borrower is the business’s actual economic injury as determined by the SBA, not to exceed $2 million.
- EIDL loans under the CARES Act do not require personal guarantees for loans up to $200,000, but the SBA will take a collateral interest in your business’s assets to the extent available.
- The interest rate on EIDL loans is 3.75% fixed for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. EIDL loans have up to a 30-year term. Specific terms will be determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay the loan.
- EIDL loans may be used for payroll, debts and to pay obligations that cannot be met due to the pandemic.
- Your business may be approved for an EIDL loan based on credit score alone, without being required to submit tax returns.
The CARES Act also permits applicants to request an advance of up to $10,000 which may be used to keep employees on payroll, to pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs, or pay business obligations. If you apply, the advance should be paid to your business within three days. This advance, available backdated from Jan.31, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020, is not required to be repaid even if your application is denied. To access this advance, borrowers must first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance.
How to Apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan
EIDL loans are available directly from the SBA. They have introduced a streamlined application process, which you can access here. Additionally, SBA resource partners are available to help guide you through the EIDL application process. You can find the nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Women’s Business Center, or SCORE mentorship chapter here.
We received the following from Blue Cross Blue Shield outlining their new policy for the time being on paying premiums through credit cards. Please note that this applies to the small group in New Jersey marketplace; small group is defined as total full time equivalent employees of 50 or fewer.
To offer flexibility to Small Groups during the COVID 19 public health emergency, Horizon BCBSNJ is allowing Small Groups to make a premium payment utilizing a credit card as a method of payment.
- When paying with credit card the cards must have the VISA/MasterCard/Discover logo on it for us to process the payment.
- We do not accept American Express.
- Credit card transaction fees will not be charged to the Small Group at this time.
- Horizon BCBSNJ will also waive the $25 processing fee that is typically charged when using an agent to make a premium payment.
- The phone number to call for group to make payment is 1-800-225-1955.
Thank you for your continued partnership, we hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.
As always, if you have any questions, please call or email your account manager. Please do not reply directly to this email as it is not monitored.
Working together to help you during this difficult time.
We are receiving a great deal of questions regarding how COVID-19 is affecting both your business and employees. Scirocco Group would like to share some critical information to keep you up-to-date on the many concerns we are all facing.
The links below, provided by ThinkHR and Zywave, are essential COVID-19 resources and do not require a login.
These links are also posted on our website below. Scirocco Group will continue to research any questions or concerns you may have. Together we’ll make it through this,
We have all been affected by the outbreak of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 which has been designated as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). We believe the most reliable information and guidance is available on the following websites:
Business Interruption by Civil Authority and Supply Chain failure
In order for business interruption coverage to respond, there must be actual direct physical damage to property from a covered cause of loss. When civil authority (e.g. federal, state, local) orders a shutdown of public transportation, imposes a curfew, or restricts commerce because of a quarantine due to an epidemic/endemic/pandemic disease, there is no direct physical damage that would trigger coverage. Similarly, if a major supplier can’t provide you with the provisions necessary to run your business because of COVID-19, there is no direct physical damage to property that would trigger coverage. The insurance industry does not currently have a standardized approved policy form to address this exposure.
It seems unlikely that a general liability policy will ever pay a claim arising from the coronavirus. The policyholder would have to be deemed legally liable for spreading the virus and that legal liability would have to qualify as an occurrence, as defined in the policy. If these two conditions aren’t met, there is no coverage.
Two tests must be satisfied before any illness or disease, including the Coronavirus, qualifies as occupational and thus compensable under workers’ compensation: The illness or disease must be “occupational”, meaning that it arose out of and was in the course and scope of the employment, and illness or disease must arise out of or be caused by conditions associated to the work. (i.e. Healthcare Worker)
This is a sensitive area and must be handled appropriately. Following are some suggestions for best practices as well as memos, flyers, and articles that we hope you find helpful.
Here are two flyers you may post in your office
Regarding work from home guidelines and managing the spread of the illness, below are two memos for you to customize and use internally. Note the yellow highlighted areas are to be changed based on your organization’s policies and the green highlighted is to be replaced with your company name.
Here is a great article written by the legal experts at Dinsmore “Helping Human Resource Managers Prepare for Coronavirus Pandemic”. This article helps answer some questions around FMLA.
Following are some other topics relative to Human Resources:
- If an employee calls in sick, what questions can I ask? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents employers from asking health-related questions to their employees, unless the employee poses a “direct threat” to other staff or operations. The CDC’s definition of “direct threat” enters into a gray area during times of pandemic. To avoid uncertainties and discrimination, we recommend not asking questions about an employee’s symptoms.
- We do recommend you ask all employees to notify one person in leadership (such as the HR director) if they or a family member has been exposed. This creates a means to self-report where employers do not have to ask questions. If the employee calls in sick, without a self-report of COVID-19, it should be treated as a normal sick day.
- If an employee is in a high-risk category and is advised to miss work, what questions can I ask? There are very few questions you are able to ask about an employee’s medical history. Directly asking an employee about their immune system is a question that likely will force the employee to disclose the existence of a disability and should not be asked to employees. Asking an employee to disclose a medical condition, a pregnancy or their age should also be avoided. This could be deemed as discrimination. It is acceptable to ask employees to self-identify if they fall into this category. Communication may look like this:
“The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all people with a higher risk of illness associated with COVID-19 should avoid their risk of exposure as much as possible. This may include staying home from work or working remotely. The higher risk group includes older adults (those aged 65 years and older) and people with chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease). If you are in this category and would like to discuss work options, please discuss with your HR director.”
If an employee comes to work with flu-like symptoms, can I send them home?
Yes. You are able to ask employees displaying symptoms of illness to leave the workplace. We recommend that you not ask additional medical questions of that employee, simply ask them to go home.
If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, who should know?
A diagnosis of COVID-19 is considered private medical information that should not be shared widely. If an employee self-reports this information, it should be communicated to the leader designated (such as the HR director). This leader will not disclose information to the employee’s supervisor, the employee’s direct reports or any coworkers. It is acceptable to share that an anonymous employee within the office has been diagnosed.
If an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, what should we do?
The CDC advises that COVID-19 is mainly spread from person-to-person contact. Experts believe that the virus can travel about six feet in distance. Therefore, anyone within six feet of the person diagnosed may have been exposed. Because you’re not able to identify who has been diagnosed, it becomes difficult to communicate who could potentially be exposed. When identifying and communicating potential exposures, we recommend following the same procedures for all staff within the facility where the exposure happened, instead of isolating certain groups of staff.
We emphasize that every insurance policy is different and the aforementioned are general guidelines and ideas that we hope you find helpful. We at Scirocco Group invite your questions and comments and are here to assist you in any way we can.