Families First Coronavirus Response Act
The final version of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18 and goes into effect on April 2, 2020. The law focuses on paid sick leave and expanded FMLA provisions, including:
- Emergency paid sick leave: Full-time employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees that are unable to work due to COVID-19 are eligible for 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave. Part-time employees are eligible to receive the equivalent of the number of hours they would work, on average, during a two-week period.
- Expanded FMLA: The law expands the FMLA definition of employer to all employers with fewer than 500 employees, and expands the definition of a covered employee to include all employees who have worked for covered employers for at least 30 days. This means more employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
The federal government is also allowing states to amend their unemployment insurance laws as a result of COVID-19.
For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits where:
- An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work.
- An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over.
- An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19. Click here to find out if you are eligible in your state to receive unemployment insurance benefits.
Economic Impact Payment
Under the recently passed CARES Act, taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 and make up to $75,000 for individuals (up to $150,000 for married couples) will automatically receive a payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child.
You do not need to take any action to receive the payment, as long as the IRS has your direct deposit information. If they do not, you will soon be able to utilize a web-based portal to provide the information.
Expanded Unemployment Insurance
The CARES Act also stipulates that a $600 weekly increase be added to unemployment insurance for the next four months. Individuals not usually eligible for UI will also receive federal funding, including the self-employed, independent contractors, and those with limited work history.
Additionally, the federal government will fund an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 after workers have run out of state unemployment benefits. Keep an eye on this page for more updates.
Verizon is waiving late fees incurred by any small business or residential customers due to their economic circumstances related to COVID-19 for the next 60 days. The company will also not terminate service to any customers who are unable to pay their bills due to COVID-19, and is adding an extra 15GB of data to all consumer and small business plans.
AT&T will not terminate the service of any wireless, home phone, or broadband residential or small business customers unable to pay their bill due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. For the next 60 days, the company will also waive late payment fees incurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will keep public Wi-Fi hotspots open for any American who needs them.
Comcast is providing free Xfinity hotspots, unlimited data, and no disconnects or late fees for all customers experiencing hardship over the next 60 days. Comcast is also offering a free Internet Essentials internet plan for all new customers for 60 days.
USBG National Charity Foundation Bartender Emergency Assistance Program
The program aims to help service industry personnel who may be experiencing financial hardship during the coronavirus outbreak. Eligible applicants can receive a grant to help with bills and other costs due to sudden loss or decrease of income. In order to qualify, an applicant must be a bartender or the spouse or child of a bartender. Click here to apply.
Restaurant Workers’ COVID-19 Relief Fund
The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation has collected information on funds that have been created to help restaurant workers that have been impacted by COVID-19. Visit their resource page to learn more.
One Fair Wage Emergency Fund
One Fair Wage Emergency Fund gives funds directly to service workers affected by the pandemic, including restaurant, salon, airport, rideshare, and gig economy workers who find themselves out of work or without customers.
Wellness Relief Fund
Reclamation Ventures opened a grant opportunity to cover one month of missed revenue (up to $2,500) for wellness spaces and wellness instructors that represent underestimated communities.
Applications will be open until April 30. Click here to apply.
If you have lost wages because you have COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus and need to self-quarantine, you can file a Disability Insurance claim. Eligible workers can receive around 60-70% of wages, ranging from $50 to $1,300 per week.
The one-week waiting period has been waived for people who are disabled due to COVID-19.
You can file a new claim through SDI Online.
If you are an employee who is unable to work because you are caring for a family member who is sick or quarantined, you can file a claim for Paid Family Leave. If you are eligible, you can receive up to six weeks of benefit payments in the same range as disability insurance, around 60-70% of wages.
Check out the eligibility requirements on the EDD website to determine if you qualify for these benefits.
In addition to state paid leave resources, employees in San Francisco are allowed to use accrued sick leave time for the following reasons:
- Public health officials or healthcare providers require or recommend an employee isolate or quarantine to prevent the spread of disease.
- The employee falls within the definition of a “vulnerable population” under the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s guidelines.
- The employee’s business or work location temporarily ceases operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation.
- The employee needs to provide care for a family member who public health officials or healthcare providers have required or recommended quarantine.
- The employee needs to provide care for a family member whose school, child care. provider, senior care provider, or work temporarily ceases operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation.
If your employer has either shut down operations or reduced your hours due to COVID-19, Unemployment Insurance is available. Like the previous two benefits, UI provides partial wage replacement ranging from $40 to $450 per week.
Unlike the typical requirements of Unemployment Insurance, you are not required to actively seek work each week while you are receiving payments if you are temporarily unemployed because of coronavirus and are expected to return to work with your employer.
The one-week waiting period has also been waived for people who are unemployed as a result of COVID-19.
Keep Oakland Housed
The Keep Oakland Housed program provides emergency financial assistance to Oakland residents who are in need of help with rent, utility payments, and other housing-related costs.
Visit the organization’s website to learn more about eligibility requirements and how to apply.
Workers and Family First Program
Mayor London Breed announced the Workers and Families First Program, which will help offset the cost of paid leave to workers who have been impacted by COVID-19. The plan includes $10 million in public funding that will help employers provide an additional five days of sick leave pay to workers.
The city will contribute up to 40 hours at $15.59 per hour per employee, or $623 per employee. The employer will be responsible for the difference between the employee’s full hourly wage and minimum wage.
The program will be available once an employee has exhausted his or her currently available sick leave, and only if the employer agrees to extend the sick leave beyond the current benefits.
Emergency Sick Leave
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment issued a set of emergency rules that require employers in certain industries to provide up to four days of paid sick leave to employees who are experiencing flu-like symptoms and are waiting to be tested for coronavirus.
The pay must be equal to the employee’s established rate, or if pay fluctuates, the average rate of pay for the last 30 days.
Employers in the following industries are required to provide the leave:
- Leisure and hospitality
- Food services
- Child care
- Education, including transportation, food service, and related work at educational establishments
- Home health, if working with elderly, disabled, ill, or otherwise high-risk individuals
- Nursing homes and community living facilities
Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance Program
The Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance program, offered by the Denver Department of Housing Stability, provides resources to residents who are facing a housing crisis or hardship to help prevent eviction or displacement.
Individuals who earn $52,000 (or households of 4 who earn less than $74,250) can get up to 80% of their rent bill paid. Help with utilities payments is provided as well.
To apply, call 311 in-state and select option 6.
Unemployment Insurance Flexibility
The Delaware Secretary of Labor issued the following new guidelines on Unemployment Insurance:
- Workers will be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to decrease or shut down operations because of the coronavirus outbreak.
- Workers will be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if they are ordered by a doctor to self-quarantine as a result, or due to risk of exposure to coronavirus COVID-19.
- Workers who cannot work because they must take care of their children due to school closures or a loved one who has been impacted by COVID-19 may receive benefits.
- If a worker falls ill to COVID-19 and is unable to work, they may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
- Part-time workers may be eligible for benefits.
Utility, Food Help
Governor Pritzker is urging the leaders of Illinois’ utility companies to maintain services for all residents during the COVID-19 outbreak. Eight major food banks across the state are working to expand services, and the administration is reaching out to food manufacturers to ensure food banks are prioritized.
An executive order was issued to waive copays, deductibles, cost-sharing and diagnostic testing fees for private insurance and state employees.
Gig Economy Relief Fund
The New Orleans Business Alliance established a relief fund to meet the needs of gig economy workers who have been directly impacted by COVID-19. The alliance initiated the fund with $100,000 and is encouraging the community to contribute.
To be eligible, you need to provide:
- Proof of residency in Orleans Parish
- Proof that at least 60% of your income is generated via “gig-work”
- Demonstrated loss of income as a result of COVID-19
Visit the Relief Fund page to apply.
The due date for individual and business tax returns has been extended to July 15, 2020. No application for the extended due date is needed.
The Bank of North Dakota student loan borrowers may request to defer payments for six months. The interest rate for variable rate borrowers decreases April 1, 2020, so BND will reduce payments to reflect the new interest rate. In addition, all borrowers with a fixed interest rate will receive a decrease in their interest rates by at least 1 percent when the Bank is able to work through technical issues.
Paid Sick Leave
If your workplace is shut down due to COVID-19, you can use your accrued paid sick leave for the days you are unable to work, as well as the following reasons:
- If your child’s school is temporarily shut down.
- If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
- If a doctor recommends you not return to work due to possible COVID-19 exposure or symptoms.
- If you’re seeking medical treatment or diagnosis for COVID-19-related symptoms.
Check out the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries’ site for frequently asked questions surrounding paid leave and coronavirus.
In the event that your workplace is shut down and a mass layoff occurs, a Rapid Response team will help you get connected to unemployment benefits, re-employment services, re-training, and referrals to other types of social services.
To start the process, your employer should notify the local workforce development council, WorkSource office, unemployment insurance claims center, local Rapid Response team, or the Dislocated Worker Unit about the upcoming layoffs.