COVID-19 Paid Leave
- The Governor has eased unemployment requirements for claims filed between March 22 and May 2, 2020. This means eligible employees who file during these dates, will not be required to show proof of job seeking. For those claims filed prior to March 22nd and after May 2nd, it is believed that the usual requirements are in place. It will take some time for the Department of Labor to work through claims as well so this isn’t an immediate payment to the employee.
For the employees that filed, note, there is a quick turnaround for a response required as the business owner. If you are paying your staff during the office shut down, these amounts are to be reported to the Department as wages and could reduce any unemployment benefit that the employee might receive. Also, it should be noted on the claims if the employee will be recalled to work should conditions change.
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), effective April 1, 2020 shortens the FMLA requirements to include employees that are employed in the prior 30 days. The Act also provides FLMA rights to employees of companies that employ less than 500 employees partially paid leave after 10 days when an employee is unable to work or telework due to school or childcare closures related to the coronavirus. The first 10 days of the event do not require payment to the employee, which is typical of FLMA laws. If the employee has paid accruals for time off, vacation pay, sick leave, etc. they may use this in place of the unpaid leave. Employers cannot require an employee to use their accruals.
- FFCRA requires two weeks of paid sick leave for government workers and employees of companies with fewer than 500 employees. Sick Leave (up to 80 hours at 100% rate of pay) is for employees who are quarantined, self-quarantined or experiencing symptoms and seeking a diagnosis. Child Care Leave (up to 80 hours at 2/3rds rate of pay) is for employees that are caring for an individual subject to quarantine, caring for a dependent under the age of 18 that are unable go to school or daycare because of closures due to the coronavirus. In some instances, this leave can be extended an additional 10 weeks.
- There are payroll tax credits available to employers that pay either Sick Leave or Child care Leave for events starting April 1 and ending December 31, 2020.
If the business cannot stay operational in the current circumstances, this is what the state and federal unemployment insurance programs are for. If an employer is laying off a large number of workers, they may file a claim in NEworks on behalf of these workers. Instructions are found on the NDOL website at: https://dol.nebraska.gov/UIBenefits.
In some instances, Short-Time Compensation is an option
In addition to regular unemployment insurance benefits, employers also have the option of utilizing Short-Time Compensation (STC). The Short-Time Compensation program helps prevent layoffs by allowing employers to uniformly reduce affected employees’ hours by 10-60% while permitting the employees to receive a prorated unemployment benefit. For more information, see the information on this page: https://dol.nebraska.gov/stc.
Please check with your insurance agent about what type of business coverage you may have to assist with any business losses during this time, such as lost revenues, business interruption, etc. Documentation may be needed to support any claims filed, so please make sure that there is a safe place for this information to be tracked and reported should it be needed.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has finalized the state of Nebraska emergency declaration. Please use the following link to see what is available, apply for a loan online or check on an application status. https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
Please contact Amy Best at Amy@gowh.com with any questions.