COVID-19 and H.R. 6201 (Federal Government Response)

My how quickly our world has changed in just the past week.  It seems that every day, in fact every hour, we are met with news about COVID-19, schools and businesses closing, shortages of supplies (ok…so cleaners and hand sanitizers I get…can someone explain to me the toilet paper run).  As this situation is extremely fluid, all of us are now facing the questions of “What do I need to do to keep my business running, how can I protect my business, my employees, and quite frankly our lives.”  I have had conversations with every client regarding the virus, the impact on business, and how to get through it.  The questions of “Help me manage my cash and expenses.” Along with the topics of “Do I stay open or close? Should I cut hours? What is the right thing to do if people need sick time?”

Last night the US House of Representatives, based H.R. 6201, in a bipartisan vote of 363 – 40.  This bill, once it passes the Senate, will provide a number of items that directly impact small business owners.  The most important is DIVISION F – Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal and Family Care Act. 
The emergency paid sick days legislation:

  • Requires all employers to allow employees to gradually accrue seven days of paid sick leave and to provide an additional 14 days available immediately in the event of any public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis;
  • Requires all employers to provide an additional 14 days of paid sick leave, available immediately at the beginning of a public health emergency, including the current coronavirus crisis;
  • Ensures paid sick leave covers days when your child’s school is closed due to a public health emergency, when your employer is closed due to public health emergency, or if you or a family member is quarantined or isolated due to a public health emergency;
  • Reimburses small businesses—defined as businesses with 50 or fewer employees—for the costs of providing the 14 days of additional paid sick leave used by employees during a public health emergency;
  • Enables construction employees to receive sick pay based on hours they work for multiple contractors; and
  • Makes the bill effective immediately so that employees in areas covered under a qualifying Public Health Emergency, upon the date of enactment, can take 14 days of paid sick leave in order to address COVID-19.

The other provision that is important to your employees, is DIVISION D – Emergency Paid Leave Act of 2020.
This section defines an “emergency leave day” as a day in which an individual is unable to work due to one of four qualifying reasons related to COVID-19:

  • The worker has a current diagnosis of COVID-19.
  • The worker is quarantined (including self-imposed quarantine), at the instruction of a health care provider, employer, or government official, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • The worker is caring for another person who has COVID-19 or who is under a quarantine related to COVID-19.
  • The worker is caring for a child or other individual who is unable to care for them self due to the COVID-19-related closing of their school, childcare facility, or other care program.

This act will provide Emergency Paid Leave Benefits. This section creates a new federal emergency paid leave benefit program. Eligible workers will receive a benefit for a month (up to three months) in which they must take 14 or more days of leave from their work due to the qualifying COVID-19-related reasons. Days when an individual receives pay from their employer (regular wages, sick pay, or other paid time off) or unemployment compensation do not count as leave days for purposes of this benefit.

The process to collect these benefits will certainly include forms to complete, documentation that will need to be submitted, and a number of steps that will need to be precisely followed.  Don’t struggle with this alone.  I am here to help you manage through this process.  I can help keep your business running and get you to the other side of this pandemic in a position to resume to normal business operations, while minimizing the financial impact to your business.  No one ever plans for a Pandemic.  Given this unprecedented situation, I know you may need help with expense budgeting and cash flow management until this crisis passes.  Don’t go it alone…leverage the expertise of a seasoned financial professional.  This is when you need A Fractional CFO.

Please reach out or use this link below to set up a time on my calendar to talk.  I am extending my hours for additional availability.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.