Good morning, everyone. Things continue to change quickly, and I have a new update today.
1. As noted in my last message, Governor Wolf had issued a “Stay at Home” Order for various counties in Pennsylvania. That Order has now been expanded to include the entire state. All individuals should stay at home except when engaged in certain essential activities or working to provide life-sustaining business and government services.
2. My last e-mail had discussed a COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program made available through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. This Program apparently was very popular, as PIDA is no longer accepting applications. Various Federal programs, including the Paycheck Protection Loan and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, remain available (at least for now). If you are interested in applying for Federal relief, you should get that process underway immediately. Here is the link to more information: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
3. As I’m sure you are aware, the Governor mandated the closure of non-life-sustaining businesses a few weeks ago. There is a process available for businesses to apply for an exemption or waiver to the shutdown requirement. The deadline for filing a waiver application is April 3; if you would like to apply for a waiver and have not already done so, time is running out. The online application is available here: https://expressforms.pa.gov/apps/pa/DCED/Waiver-process-keeping-physical-locations-open
I would also urge you to check the list of exempt businesses, as it has been updated periodically, including yesterday: https://www.scribd.com/document/452553026/UPDATED-4-00pm-April-1-2020-Industry-Operation-Guidance.
4. Finally, the Federal Department of Labor issued temporary regulations yesterday intended to help businesses comply with the Paid Leave and Emergency FMLA provisions contained within the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The regulations and accompanying explanations are lengthy (over 100 pages); I’m still in the process of reviewing them and hope to have a summary out to you fairly soon. In the meantime, however, there is at least some more specific information which will assist all of us in meeting the obligations of this new law. As a reminder, the FFCRA requires employers who employ fewer than 500 employees and governments to provide up to two weeks of paid sick time to employees who are unable to work (including work from home) because:
1. The employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a quarantine or isolation order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine.
5. The employee is caring for a son or daughter because the child’s school or place of care has been closed or the child’s childcare is unavailable due to COVID 19 precautions.
6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of the HHS in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
The new law also expands the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide time off (some of which must be paid) to employees who are unable to work (or work from home) in order to care for the employee’s minor child because the child’s school or daycare has been closed.
I hope you are all doing well! Please reach out any time if I can be of help to you.
John L. Senft, Esquire