The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing every day, but FUBA is working hard to keep you updated on how it impacts your business. We are compiling a list of resources that will be available on our website very soon. In the meantime, here are the most important things that small business owners need to know. This information is current as of 3:00 pm March 24, 2020; we will send out additional e-alerts as things change.
1. Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees that are located in Florida and are affected by COVID-19 can apply for an emergency bridge loan from the State of Florida. Loans are up to $50,000 (and up to $100,000 in special circumstances) and are interest-free for up to one year. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) administers these loans and will work with every borrower to ensure that repayment of the loan isn’t an overwhelming burden. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to March 9, 2020, and demonstrate economic impacts as a result of COVID-19. The application period ends May 8, 2020.
Businesses can apply in one of two ways:
- Apply online and upload required supporting documentation or
- Download an application, complete it and mail it with the required supporting documentation to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) at: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, C/O Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan, 107 E. Madison Street, MSC-160, Tallahassee FL 32399-4120.
Small businesses that have applied for the bridge loan program in response to COVID-19 should not submit an additional application. Click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions about applying for this loan.
2. United States Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance
The US Small Business Administration’s (SBA) low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) are now available to small businesses affected by the loss of revenue due to the Coronavirus that are unable to pay ordinary operating expenses. These loans are intended to provide working capital to help small businesses until normal operations resume.
3. New Paid Leave Requirement for Employees Affected by COVID-19
A new federal law that was just approved on March 20, 2020 requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave for their employees in certain situations. See FUBA’s e-alert from March 20th for details. This new law goes into effect April 1, 2020 (originally scheduled to take effect April 2, but the US Department of Labor has clarified that it begins April 1) and will end on December 31, 2020. This new law was hastily drafted, and there are more questions than answers about some parts of it. We have been told to expect some type of exemption from this new paid leave requirement for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, but that has not happened yet (as of March 24, 2020). Most small businesses will not have the cash flow in this uncertain time to pay for this leave, so we are hoping that the federal government exempts small businesses from having to pay for this leave.
There is a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for employers who do provide this paid leave. Employers can claim this tax credit against their next payroll tax deposit. More information about this tax credit will be on our website soon at FUBA.org under the blue Alerts tab.
4. If My Business Closes, Do I Still Have to Pay for this Leave?
The new law does not specifically address this, but it does appear that a business is not required to pay this leave to any employee who is terminated prior to April 2, 2020. Employers cannot terminate employees to get out of paying for this leave. If you have to lay employees off or close your business, make sure to document layoffs and closures so you can show that the layoffs/closure were due to the economic viability of the keeping the business open instead of trying to avoid paying for this leave.
5. A New Poster Will be Required for Businesses
The new paid leave law requires all employers to provide a notice/poster to their employees explaining the new paid time off that they may be eligible for as a result of COVID-19. We expect the US Department of Labor to publish this poster very soon. As soon as we get it, we will have them printed and get them in the mail to all FUBA members at no charge. When you receive it, please post it with your other posters we have previously sent to you.
6. Laid-Off Employees Can Apply for Unemployment Compensation
Small businesses who have had to lay employees off due to a business closure because of COVID-19 can advise their employees to apply for unemployment compensation (also called ‘reemployment assistance’). Currently, out-of-work employees can get up to $275 a week for up to 12 weeks. The United States Congress is currently debating a law that would increase these benefits and also expand who can file for unemployment benefits (i.e., independent contractors). This has not happened yet, but we will keep you updated. Laid-off employees can file for unemployment benefits here: http://floridajobs.org/Reemployment-Assistance-Service-Center/reemployment-assistance/claimants/apply-for-benefits