On June 3, 2020, the Senate approved the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act of 2020 (H.R. 7010), legislation the House passed on May 28 that makes significant changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act is designed to make it easier for borrowers to obtain PPP loan forgiveness and intended to relax requirements and increase access for small businesses seeking emergency funding under the PPP. Click here for an overview of the most significant changes.
Labor & Employment
On Friday, June 5, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (the “Act”), which relaxes various rules under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’s (the “CARES Act”) $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program (the “PPP” or “Program”) managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”). The PPP provides forgivable loans to small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.
India Update: Indian Government Institutes Community and Workplace Safety Guidelines for Phased Re-Opening Following the COVID-19 Lockdown
As we previously reported, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian government invoked special provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (the “DMA”) to implement a series of orders under the DMA (“Orders”) imposing a nationwide lockdown. The Indian national lockdown went into effect on March 25, 2020 and was extended several times, until May 31, 2020.
The initial lockdown Orders included strict directives for employers. The employment provisions of the orders (the “Employment Provisions”) prohibited employers from terminating any employees or contract labor during lockdown, except for disciplinary reasons. In addition, the Employment Provisions barred employers from reducing employees’ wages. The Employment Provisions also addressed specific issues that affected employers and employees during the lockdown, including (i) maintenance of the workforce, (ii) prohibition against forced use of paid leave or taking of unpaid leave, (iii) permissibility of medical checks, and (iv) sick time for employees with COVID-19.
Ontario Regulation 228/20: Infectious Disease Emergency Leave was filed under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “Act“) on May 29, 2020 to address certain workforce changes that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-unionized employees who have had their hours reduced or eliminated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will be deemed to be on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, which is unpaid, job-protected leave. The Regulation applies throughout the COVID-19 period, which is from March 1, 2020 until the date that is six weeks after the day that the emergency is declared terminated.
In a previous post, we discussed the appropriate use of the Provider Relief Funds authorized and appropriated by Congress under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (“Relief Fund”) for healthcare providers and facilities. Within that post, we specifically discussed the limitation imposed on use of the Relief Funds for payment of salaries, a topic of great interest to many recipients. Under the Terms and Conditions, recipients are prohibited from using the funds for salaries in excess of the Senior Executive Service Executive Level II amount – an annual salary of $197,300 – or $16,441 a month. We noted that, although the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) had not spoken to this requirement with respect to the Provider Relief Funds, HHS permits other HHS grant Recipients to pay individuals’ salaries in excess of the $197,300 limit with non-federal funds. Also, HHS’ federal contract regulations similarly limit use of federal contract funds for salary costs to the Executive Level II amount, but allow for amounts in excess of that limit to be paid with non-federal funds.
Companies have asked “Can an employer do temporary layoffs?” and want the answer in a short, summary format – and the ILN has answered – 17 member jurisdictions have weighed in with concise responses to help guide your business in the current crisis.
The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) provided forgivable loans to assist small businesses with expenses during the COVID-19 shutdown, seemingly creating a lifeline for many of these enterprises. As explained here, a borrower could obtain a loan equal to the lesser of $10 million or the sum of its average monthly payroll costs for 2.5 months, (reduced to the extent that any individual was paid more than $100,000 per year) plus the balance of any Economic Injury Disaster Loan received between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020. Like many federal programs, however, participation in the PPP program requires an extensive series of certifications that could expose borrowers to liability under the under the False Claims Act (“FCA”), a Civil War era statute, that the government has continued to use to combat both government contract and health care fraud. Borrowers must, therefore, remain mindful of the key aspects of the FCA as they use PPP funds and as they apply for loan forgiveness.
As featured in #WorkforceWednesday: To support employee mental health, employers have important tools available, such as telemental health benefits, vacation, leave, and the interactive accommodation process. Watch for a few quick tips.
In EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01, “Guidance and Relief for employee Benefit Plans Due to COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Outbreak” ( “Notice”), the DOL provided sponsors of defined contribution plans subject to ERISA relief from DOL enforcement action for failure to timely forward participant contributions and loan repayments to the plan during the period from March 1, 2020, and to the 60th day following the announced end of the National Emergency. This DOL relief, however, appears to be limited to ERISA violations and does not appear to provide protection from the excise taxes under the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”).
Many employers are now arranging for employees to return to the workplace after, what has hopefully been, the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland. Our employment law expert, Shane Costelloe, unmasks the Return to Work Safety Protocol