Legislative Updates

DHS Updated Guidance:

 

On March 28, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency issued additional guidance about types of construction activity deemed essential services during the COVID-19 crisis. This list is intended to help State, local, tribal and territorial officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.

FFCRA Guidance:

  Today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published more guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it goes into effect on April 1, 2020. The latest round of guidance includes questions and answers addressing critical issues such as the definition of a “health care provider,” and the scope of the small business exemption for purposes of exclusion from the provisions of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, as well as whether public sector employees may take paid family and medical leave. In addition, WHD posted its two recently released posters and fact sheets in Spanish on its COVID-19 website. This guidance adds to a growing list of compliance assistance materials published by WHD, including the English-language versions of a Fact Sheet for Employees, a ...

CARES Act Emergency Aid:

  With the CARES Act being signed into law on Friday, federal agencies are focused on providing the approximately $2 trillion in aid to Americans and businesses throughout the country. For the nearly $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program, the SBA must issue regulations within 15 days of enactment of the CARES Act without regard to notice and comment requirements. Hence, it is possible that lenders could begin taking loan applications as soon as mid-April. The PPP would provide 8 weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If the employer maintains payroll, the portion of the loans used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven, which would help workers to remain employed and affected small businesses and our economy to recover quickly from this crisis. This proposal would be retroactive to February 15, 2020, to help bring workers who may have alr ...

ABC Webinars:

 

ABC is working to prepare webinars for members and chapters to attend on the recently passed into law CARES Act and other critical policy including guidance on essential services for states and local communities.

Stay tuned for alerts from ABC as we continue to work to provide critical updates on information from our government agencies. Additional COVID-19 resources are also available at https://abc.org/coronavirus.

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 fo ...

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.

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 th ...

Paycheck Protection Program Overview:

  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. 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 franch ...

OSHA Recording and Reporting of Cases of COVID-19

 

Many employers are now asking whether they must record cases of COVID-19 on their Occupational Safety and Health Administration 300 Logs or report the cases to OSHA. ABC is aware of concerns expressed by ABC members on this issue. 

As a member of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, ABC sent a letter to OSHA today regarding the agency’s recordkeeping and respirator enforcement during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please refer to the attached letter.

ABC general counsel Littler Mendelson P.C. has written an article that covers the following questions:

  • Is COVID-19 Considered an “Illness” Under OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rules?
  • When Is a COVID-19 Case Considered Recordable?
  • When Is a COVID-19 Case Reportable?

Read the Littler analysis here.

Additional information can be found on the OSHA webpage.

See also ABC’s Coronavirus Update webpage.

Staff will continue to work with OSHA and provide future updates.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

 

Last Wednesday, the President signed into law H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. ABC was joined by a number of organizations in a letter to the Senate (attached) expressing concerns with the bill’s mandated leave provisions and ABC also sent a key vote letter (attached) in support of a Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) amendment to replace the mandated leave requirements with unemployment insurance capped at $1000 a week. Unfortunately, the Senate set a 60 vote threshold on amendments to the bill and the Johnson amendment failed by a vote of 50-48.

While the House was required to issue technical corrections to the bill they passed over the weekend, the bill would require businesses with 500 and fewer employees to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave. An overview of the bill’s employer paid leave requirements from the House Ways and Means Committee can be found here and a Littler explainer here.

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