DOL Issues Guidance Regarding Employee Benefit Plans (April 30, 2020)
The Department of Labor (DOL) Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today issued deadline relief and other guidance under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). This will help employee benefit plans, plan participants and beneficiaries, employers and other plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, and other service providers impacted by the pandemic.
A DOL notice, jointly issued with the Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service, extends certain time frames affecting participants’ rights to healthcare coverage, portability, and continuation of group health plan coverage under COBRA, and extends the time for plan participants to file or perfect benefit claims or appeals of denied claims. These extensions provide participants and beneficiaries of employee benefit plans time to make important health coverage and other decisions affecting their benefits during the coronavirus outbreak.
FEMA Disaster Financial Management Guide (Updated April 15, 2020)
FEMA released the Disaster Financial Management Guide to help jurisdictions identify and use available federal resources for disaster recovery, including COVID-19 supplemental funding. While the guide applies to all disasters, the concepts, principles, and resources directly apply to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. It includes guidance on the following:
- Considerations and practices for tracking, calculating and justifying the cost of an emergency;
- Supporting local reimbursement reconciliation;
- Avoiding deobligation of grant funding; and
- Effectively funding and implementing recovery projects and priorities.
An Overview: The CARES Act
Congress recently passed H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This third congressional relief package provides $4.1 billion in support for individuals and businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Below are related updates and information on payroll relief, unemployment, small businesses, fraud, and scams.
1. Payroll Relief
The CARES Act provides significant payroll relief provisions pertaining to the employee retention credit and delays employer payroll taxes.
- The CARES Act includes an employee retention credit (ERC). The ERC is against an employer’s portion of payroll tax for an eligible business that is forced to suspend or close operations due to COVID-19, or has a significant revenue decrease, and continues to pay its employees. This credit is in addition to the payroll tax credit provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for eligible employers providing emergency paid and sick leave.
- The CARES Act postpones the due date for the employer’s share of payroll taxes (6.2 percent) related to Social Security for businesses. The deferred amounts would be payable over the next two years, with 50 percent due Dec. 31, 2021, and the remaining 50 percent due Dec. 31, 2022. Additional information about these payroll relief provisions is available on the IRS website.
Many people who lost their job or were laid off as a result of COVID-19 are applying for unemployment benefits for the first time. The CARES Act provides Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for American workers. Notably, the bill also gives states the option to offer benefits to individuals who are self-employed and independent contractors. A summary of unemployment benefit provisions in the CARES Act is available here.
3. Small Businesses
Under the CARES Act, the Small Business Administration (SBA) overseea a variety of loan and grant programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program. This program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and other expenses. NAPA recommends you consult the following resources:
- For a top-line overview of the program CLICK HERE.
- If you’re a borrower, more information can be found HERE.
- Final Borrower Application Form *NEW*
- Paycheck Protection Program – Interim Final Rule *NEW*
- The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Guide to What Small Businesses Need to Know
4. COVID-19 Scams, Fraud Attempts
The IRS has urged taxpayers to lookout for calls and email phishing attempts related to COVID-19. These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.
An Overview: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed into law on March 18, 2020, is effective on April 1, 2020, and contains paid leave provisions, summarized below.
1. Paid Leave Requirements
The FFCRA created new temporary paid sick leave and paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) programs that are 100 percent reimbursable by the federal government. The effective date of both programs is April 1, 2020 and they expire on Dec. 31, 2020. Both programs are in addition to any leave businesses already offer. On April 1, the U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. The leave provisions are created by a time-limited statutory authority under the FFCRA and expire Dec. 31, 2020. The rule is effective April 1-Dec. 31, 2020.
NAPA recommends downloading these compliance assistance materials:
- Fact Sheet for Employees and a Fact Sheet for Employers, available in English and Spanish
- An expansive list of Questions and Answers
- Posters for federal workers and one for all other employees, available in English and Spanish, that will fulfill notice requirements for employers
- Questions and Answers about posting requirements
- A Field Assistance Bulletin on the 30-day non-enforcement policy
2. Related Tax Credits for Required Paid Leave Provided by Small, Midsize Businesses
The FFCRA provides small and midsize employers refundable tax credits that reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave wages to their employees for leave related to COVID-19. For more guidance on these tax credits, click here. For an excellent employer’s guide on coronavirus paid leave programs prepared by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, click here.
Assistance for Small Businesses: Paycheck Prioritization Program
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and other expenses. Small businesses and other organizations described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they meet program size standards.
NAPA Webinar on Coronavirus/COVID-19: Business & Workplace Implications
A must for business owners, HR managers, and health & safety professionals, NAPA’s 90 minute webinar, presented by labor and employment attorneys with Ogletree Deakins, focuses on a company’s operational labor and employment requirements during the pandemic.
Most State, Local Highway Agencies Deem Road Construction Essential
Most state and local highway agencies (SHAs) are continuing highway and road construction projects and, in some cases, have deemed road construction as essential. At this time, we do not have any reports of labor or material supply shortages due to COVID-19. Many highway agencies are providing flexibility to contractors in reviewing claims or time extensions related to labor or material shortages. With the widespread cancellation of in-person training, NAPA sent a letter to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) encouraging SHAs to allow flexibility regarding certifications which may include allowing certification extensions until training is available again and/or using independent assurance as a method to validate technician competency while completing project work. The letter also requests FHWA work with SHAs to allow flexibility regarding contract schedules in this unprecedented time.
State-By-State Compilation | Effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Projects and Agency Operations
The National Asphalt Pavement Association, working in partnership with the State Asphalt Pavement Associations (SAPAs), is monitoring the status of State Departments of Transportation/Highway Agencies and paving projects across the country in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Updates on DOT openings and project status from NAPA members and the SAPAs has been compiled, on a state-by-state level, on this page. The information below reflects our knowledge, in a very fluid situation. Updates to the page will be made as additional information becomes available. Click here to access the latest information.
Please pass along any market intelligence to Amy Miller at AMiller@AsphaltRoads.org. All new intelligence will be used for the next edition of the report.
The National Association of Manufacturers is providing updated COVID-19 information and resources from state and local governments.