COVID-19 Resources for Workers and Businesses
With rapidly changing public health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are also ever-changing responses to address issues impacting businesses and workers. See below for General Information, Business Operations, Accessing Benefits, New Legislation & Benefits, and Taxes.
WA State: There is a WA state government page dedicated to COVID-19: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/. It contains the latest news as well and guidance and links to other resources for dealing with COVID-19 and its impacts, including a page for Business & Workers: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/business-workers.
WA Governor: The WA Governor’s Office has a page dedicated to coronavirus resources. There is a Latest News section at the bottom of the page that shows any action related to the issue from new limitations/restrictions to emergency legislation.
Federal: The U.S. government also has a dedicated page, https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus, as does the U.S. Congress, https://www.congress.gov/, which should both report on any federal legislation affecting workers and business during this time.
Workplace Safety: The WA Department of Health has a page with guidance to employers for workplace safety during this time.
Stay Home, Stay Healthy Essential Business: Governor Inslee has implemented a Stay Home, Stay Healthy order that physically closes all but essential businesses (telework is permitted). Here is a link to the description of what qualifies as essential: https://www.coronavirus.wa.gov/whats-open-and-closed/essential-business. If you cannot determine your status after reviewing the list, there is an online form you can submit for clarification or to request inclusion. The order will be in place through at least April 6, 2020 and could be extended.
U.S. Small Business Administration: Guidance & Loan Resources: All small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are currently eligible to apply for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans. More information about the loan can be found here: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance. The SBA has also put together a list of loan resources and guidance for small business owners. The list can be found here: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
Here are some important employment resources from Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD) and Department of Labor & Industries (L&I):
ESD COVID-19 Scenarios and Benefits Flyer: This gives a quick snap-shot of what benefits might be available to workers (Paid Sick Leave, Unemployment Insurance, Paid Family & Medical Leave, or Industrial Insurance/worker’s compensation) for different situations (e.g. if quarantined or if an employer needs to reduce hours).
ESD Information on Unemployment and Paid Family & Medical Leave Benefits: This answers questions about when workers might qualify for unemployment benefits and what situations might trigger entitlement to Paid Family & Medical Leave. Currently, this might include SharedWork, Standby or Partial Employment benefits which were emergently updated to allow some wage replacement while an employer has temporarily shut down or reduced hours because of COVID-19, without requiring the worker to look for new employment. The site also provides information on applying for benefits.
L&I Guide on COVID-19: This relates to use of paid sick leave (which all nonexempt workers accrue and can be used when a public official orders closure of a workplace or the school/child care center of a worker for COVID-19), industrial insurance/workers’ compensation (which may cover diseases acquired on-the-job and was expanded by emergency rule to cover health care workers and first responders who are quarantined following possible exposure to COVID-19), and workplace safety. This page also has links to more specific information about the different benefits and supports available through L&I, as well as how to apply for benefits.
The U.S. Department of Labor also has a page dedicated to coronavirus resources.
Paid Leave and Diagnostic Testing: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law 3/18/2020 becoming Public Law No. 116-127. This Act:
Stimulus Act: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020 becoming Public Law No. 116-136. The CARES Act provides direct payments or grants/loans to individuals, businesses and hospitals, including
Amongst other items.
Tax Relief: The Internal Revenue Service also set up a Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which provides the latest tax information related to the coronavirus. The IRS recently issued a Treasury News Release announcing that tax payments due on April 15, 2020 will be deferred until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin also announced the decision to defer the tax filing deadline from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020 through Twitter, however an official Treasury News Release has not been released when this post was updated.
Tax Credits for Paid Leave: Under the FFCRA employers can get a 100% refundable tax credit for providing benefits under the Act. Be sure to retain records supporting the credit (e.g. showing reason for leave, leave time take, payments for leave time, etc.; see the DOL FAQ page and check with your tax professional).
Charitable Deductions: Under the CARES Act and beginning with tax year 2020, taxpayers can take up to a $300 deduction for charitable contributions. This is an above-the-line deduction so a subtraction from gross income, and can be taken in addition to the Standard Deduction.
Disclaimer: This article and blog are intended to inform the reader of general legal principles applicable to the subject area. They are not intended to provide legal advice regarding specific problems or circumstances. Readers should consult with competent counsel with regard to specific situations.
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