Keeping Your Business in Business During COVID-19

Katherine M. Flett

By Katherine M. Flett



co-presented by Katherine M. Flett and Ruth Binger

Ruth Binger and Katherine Flett presented a webinar on keeping your business in business, which included employment and business strategies during the pandemic.

Maintaining a Legally Compliant Work Environment and Navigating the ‘New’ Workplace in the Face of COVID-19,” a Facebook Live webinar, was part of the Greater St. Charles County Chamber of Commerce‘s Chamber University.

Topics included: Continue reading »

Getting Back to Work: OSHA Guidance for Non-Essential Businesses

Ruth Binger

By Ruth Binger



OSHA has released new guidelines for the reopening to help non-essential businesses ensure the safety and health of their employees and customers from the spread of COVID-19.

This new guidance supplements Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 from the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Guidelines for Opening up America Again from the White House.

Under the new OSHA guidelines, businesses should establish reopening policies and procedures in the following areas: Continue reading »

President Trump Signs Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

Marcia Swihart Orgill

By Marcia Swihart Orgill



The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (Flexibility Act) makes key changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that provide borrowers with more flexibility to obtain loan forgiveness, including extending the time period to spend PPP loan proceeds, reducing the payroll expenditure requirement for PPP loans, and extending the time period to restore employment and wage levels. The following is a summary of the modifications the Flexibility Act makes to the PPP.

1. Extension of Time to Spend Loan Proceeds. The Flexibility Act extends the covered period that a borrower must spend its loan funds from eight weeks after the loan origination date to 24 weeks or until December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier. The Flexibility Act allows borrowers that already received a PPP loan prior to enactment of the Flexibility Act to elect an eight week covered period, which may be beneficial for borrowers who have already spent most of their PPP loan proceeds and are near the end of their original eight week covered period.

2. Payroll Expenditure Requirement. The Flexibility Act reduces the payroll expenditure requirement from 75% to 60%. The remaining 40% of loan funds may still only be used for payments of interest on any covered mortgage obligation, rent and utilities.

In an Interim Final Rule issued on April 3, the SBA established the requirement that at least 75% of the PPP loan proceeds be used for payroll costs. If less than 75% of the of loan funds are spent on payroll costs, the SBA Loan Forgiveness Application requires a borrower to reduce the amount eligible for loan forgiveness. In changing the payroll expenditure requirement to 60%, the Flexibility Act added the following language to the CARES Act: “To receive loan forgiveness”, a borrower “shall use at least 60% of the covered loan amount for payroll costs.” Based on this language it is not clear whether a borrower will still be able to obtain partial loan forgiveness if the 60% threshold is not obtained. Continue reading »

Legal Guidance for Employers on Navigating New Wellness/Health Policies – On Demand Webinar

Ruth Binger

By Ruth Binger



A recent survey of Missouri manufacturers by Missouri Enterprise found that understanding wellness and health guidelines due to Covid-19 is a top challenge for moving forward.

In “Legal Guidance to Help Employers Navigate New Wellness/Health Policies,” a webinar from Missouri Enterprise, I discuss major obstacles and gray areas related to protecting employees in the new normal of Covid-19.

Watch the webinar to learn how to navigate the new health order while protecting employees on the job. Questions include:

  • Can employers require employees to get flu or Covid-19 vaccinations?
  • What questions can an employer legally ask when an employee calls in sick?
  • What can an employer do if an employee doesn’t want to return to work because they are afraid of getting sick?
  • Can an employer require high-risk employees (due to age or health) to stay home?
  • What information can an employer share with other employees if an employee is being tested for the virus?
  • Can a company require an employee to leave work if they seem ill?
  • Can an employer be held liable if an employee contacts the virus at the workplace?
  • If the virus spread through the workplace, is it considered a workers’ comp injury?

Click below to watch the webinar: Continue reading »

Employers Must Report Work-related COVID-19 Cases to OSHA

Ruth Binger

By Ruth Binger



Under new guidelines from OSHA, employers must record all work-related COVID-19 cases that meet the following three conditions:

  1. The case is confirmed as COVID-19 as defined by the CDC.
  2. The case is determined to be work-related.
  3. The case results in any of the following:
    1. Death
    2. Significant injury or illness diagnosed by a medical professional
    3. Days away from work
    4. Restricted work or transfer to another job
    5. Medical treatment beyond first aid
    6. Loss of consciousness.

In addition, per the new guidelines: Continue reading »

PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Now Available

Marcia Swihart Orgill

By Marcia Swihart Orgill



Updated 7/6/2020

The Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury have released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application.

The application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program has been extended to August 8, 2020. Updated loan forgiveness instructions and forms are available here:

PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Instructions for Borrowers

PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Form – Revised June 16, 2020

Self-Employed: Continue reading »

Safe Harbor Deadline for Repayment of PPP Loans Extended from May 14 to May 18

Marcia Swihart Orgill

By Marcia Swihart Orgill



On May 13, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, extended the safe harbor deadline to repay Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to May 18, 2020. Previously in its PPP Loans Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), the SBA reminded borrowers to carefully review the required certification on the PPP loan application that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.”

ppp loanIn further guidance, the SBA provided that any borrower of a PPP loan that repays the loan in full by the specified safe harbor deadline will be deemed by the SBA to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith.  According to the newly issued FAQ #47, Continue reading »

Warning to Employers and Medical Providers Alike Regarding Releasing COVID-19 Test Results!

Laura Gerdes Long

By Laura Gerdes Long



So, your furloughed employee[i] is returning to work – Hooray!? Not so fast. Employers and the medical providers who are treating and perhaps testing these employees/patients for COVID-19 need to be wary about who is able to disclose and use testing information and to whom.  Both sides must tread carefully and follow strict guidelines in such situations.

For over two decades, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) has governed disclosure of an individual’s protected health information and has prevented a medical provider from unilaterally disclosing sensitive health information to employers.  Even faced with a previously unimaginable global pandemic, from its implementation in 2003, the HIPAA Privacy Rule has had procedures in place that address this thorny legal issue.

Take the following hypothetical example: An employer furloughs an employee as a reduction in work force for financial reasons. While on furlough, the rumor mill is active and the employer “hears” that this employee may have been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms while on furlough.  May the employer reach out to the employee’s medical provider to obtain medical information specifically related to COVID-19 testing? May the provider release such information if the employer contacts the provider to inquire? Work-arounds exist under the HIPAA Privacy Rule or may exist when the employer pays for COVID-19 testing.

Option 1:  Consent Upfront. Continue reading »

Federal Reserve Offers Lending Program for Small and Medium-Size Businesses

Hannah E. Mudd

By Hannah E. Mudd



The Federal Reserve announced on April 9, 2020 that it has established a $600 billion lending program focused on aiding small and medium-size businesses who were in good financial standing prior to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. This program will enable the purchase of qualifying loans from lenders lending to U.S. businesses with up to 10,000 employees or up to $2.5 billion in 2019 annual revenues. Additionally, it looks like firms who have taken advantage of the SBA Paycheck Protection Program will be eligible to participate in this program as well.

The Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program will operate through two facilities: the Main Street New Loan Facility (MSNLF) and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility (MSELF). Eligible lenders may originate new loans (under MSNLF) or increase the size of (“upsize”) existing loan/tranches (under MSELF) made to eligible businesses. The program is not operational at this time, but the comment period just closed on April 16, 2020. Accordingly, we can expect the program to start and have an application available soon.

The MSNLF will purchase participations in eligible loans originated by lenders on or after April 8, 2020. The MSELF will purchase upsized tranches or loans originated by lenders before April 8, 2020 that meet specific eligibility criteria. In either case, the purchases will be on a risk-shared basis with the lender retaining 5% of the loans and the relevant facility purchasing 95% participation in the loans originated by eligible lenders. This 95% purchased participation will be through a single special purpose vehicle on a recourse basis as set up by a Reserve Bank branch.

We will first discuss the borrower, lender, asset, and entity eligibility requirements that are the same across both facilities before delving into the facility-specific issues.

Common Requirements

Eligible lenders include U.S. insured depository institutions, U.S. bank holding companies, and U.S. savings and loan holding companies (“lenders”). While eligible borrowers are businesses with up to 10,000 employees or up to $2.5 billion in 2019 annual revenues. Borrowers must be a business created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States with significant operations in, and most of its employees based in, the United States. Borrowers who participate in program may not also participate the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility as established by the Federal Reserve.

Eligible loans are unsecured term loans made by a lender(s) to a borrower that has: Continue reading »

Unemployment Benefits in the Time of Covid-19

Lauren L. Wood

By Lauren L. Wood



layoff

The United States has seen a staggering rise in claims for unemployment with nearly 3.3 million new jobless claims. With no clear end to the COVID-19 crisis in sight, Congress passed legislation and states have revised policies to ease the growing unemployment burden. This article provides an overview of the unemployment provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) and new measures taken by Missouri and Illinois to provide relief.

The CARES Act

The CARES Act provides for $260 billion to dramatically expand unemployment coverage for workers who are unable to work as a result of the pandemic.

In the event a worker becomes unemployed as a result of COVID-19, the worker will be eligible for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) of $600 per week. This payment is in addition to any benefits a worker is entitled to under applicable state law. The supplemental payments will be provided through July 31, 2020.

The CARES Act also provides for 13 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), in addition to regular length of time a worker may receive regular state benefits. To receive these extended benefits, a worker must be actively searching for work, though the CARES Act requires states to provide flexibility in applying this requirement when COVID-19 restricts an individual’s ability to look for work.

Workers who usually do not qualify for unemployment benefits, including those who are self-employed, independent contractors and freelancers, among others, will be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is also available to those who have already exhausted all rights to regular unemployment benefits (including the extended benefits described above). Certain criteria specific to the COVID-19 pandemic apply to individuals seeking PUA. For those who meet the criteria, PUA is available for weeks of unemployment, partial unemployment, or inability to work caused by COVID-19 for up to 39 weeks of the time period of January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

Another portion of the CARES Act expands “work sharing” programs to provide partial benefits to workers with reduced hours. These programs allow employers to put workers on part-time status with partial unemployment benefits. Currently, the cost of these programs, intended to prevent layoffs, is borne by individual states. The CARES Act provides funding to states to promote and utilize these programs.

Missouri’s Response

The recently passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) goes into effect April 1, 2020. The FFCRA provides states an initial influx of funding to handle the dramatic increase in unemployment benefit applications and allowed flexibility in modifying policies and procedures. Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced changes being made by the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations:

Continue reading »