How COVID-19 Impacts Businesses Today & Tomorrow: Remaining Aid & Lasting Policy Changes

Key Points about the pandemic’s impact on employers:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has created short and long-term changes in the workplace.
  • In the short-term, loans, tax credits, and other COVID-19-related aid continue to offer economic relief for businesses.
  • In the long-term, pandemic practices have changed workplace policies and procedures. Our checklist can help you keep track of all of the policy updates you may need to make.

COVID-19-related programs and practices have changed with each new bill, and workplaces have had to adapt alongside them.

Now that it’s been a full year since the pandemic began, which aid programs are still relevant to your business? How has the pandemic made lasting changes to your company’s policies and procedures?

We answer these questions to help you make the most of the remaining COVID-19-related aid and ensure your policies are up to date. You can also use our Updating Your Company Handbook & Policies for COVID-19 Checklist to keep track of policy updates.

COVID-19-related stimulus bills introduced a variety of programs to help employers throughout the pandemic. Depending on the type of aid you need, tax credits, loans, and more may be available to your business. The various programs still available include:

How can this program help?

This program reimburses you for any leave you provide under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This leave can help your employees care for themselves and those around them without worrying about missed pay. Your employees can take FFCRA-related leave to:

  • Care for themselves if they are unable to work or telework because they are quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Care for a family member or qualifying individual, including a child whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19
  • Receive their COVID-19 vaccination
  • Recover from an injury, disability, illness, or condition related to the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Wait for the results of a COVID-19 test

Note: You are no longer Federally required to provide Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family and Medical Leave as dictated under the FFCRA. Doing so is fully voluntary. However, state or local laws may require you to provide a similar type of leave. Be sure to check your state and local legislation for any additional requirements.

When does this program expire?

If you choose to provide FFCRA-related leave, you can claim the tax credits for qualifying payments until September 30, 2021.

For more information about eligibility and other requirements, please click here

Employee Retention Tax Credits

How can this program help?

These credits cover a large portion of your payroll costs to help you keep your workers employed during the pandemic. 

For qualifying payroll expenses made from March 13 – December 31, 2020:

  • You can claim up to $5,000 per employee per quarter

For qualifying payroll expenses made from January 1 – December 31, 2021:

  • You can claim up to $7,000 per employee per quarter

When does this program expire?

You can claim these credits until December 31, 2021.

For more information about eligibility and other requirements, please click here

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans

How can this program help?

PPP loans provide funds to help you cover a variety of business expenses. As long as you use the loan for qualifying expenses, you don’t need to repay it. You can use PPP loans to cover costs such as:

  • Payroll 
  • Rent 
  • Mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Covered operations costs (such as software, cloud computing services, or other human resources needs)
  • Covered property damage costs 
  • Covered supplier costs
  • Covered worker protection costs (such as personal protective equipment)
  • Certain group insurance payments (such as group life, disability, dental, and vision insurance benefits)

When does this program expire?

The deadline to apply for a first or second round PPP loan is May 31, 2021.

If you already received a PPP loan, remember to submit your forgiveness application within 10 months of receiving your loan. If you do not submit your forgiveness application within this time frame, you will need to start making loan payments.

For more information about PPP loans, eligibility, and forgiveness, please click here.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

How can this program help?

Like PPP loans, EIDLs provide funds to help you cover a variety of business expenses. However, unlike PPP loans, EIDLs are not forgivable. You must repay the loan. You can use EIDL funds for:

  • Payroll costs
  • Fixed debts
  • Accounts payable
  • Other bills that you’re unable to pay due to COVID-19

When does this program expire?

The deadline to apply for a COVID-19 EIDL is December 31, 2021. 

If you submitted an application and it was declined, you can request reconsideration. From the date your application was denied, you have up to 6 months to request reconsideration. Within this period, your request will be honored even if the December 2021 deadline has passed.

For more information about COVID-19 EIDLs, eligibility, and other requirements, please click here.

Targeted EIDL Advances

How can this program help?

Targeted EIDL Advances provide additional funds to help businesses in low-income communities cover a variety of costs. If you qualify for one of these advances, you do not need to repay it. You can use this advance to cover costs such as:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Health care benefits
  • Fixed-debt payments

When does this program expire?

The Small Business Association (SBA) has not announced an expiration date for this program. If you think you qualify, there’s nothing you need to do at this time. The SBA will contact qualifying businesses with additional information and next steps.

For more information about this program and eligibility, please click here

Employer Payroll Tax Deferral 

How did this program help?

The Employer Payroll Tax Deferral allowed you to defer payment of the employer’s portion of Social Security tax that would otherwise be due between March 27, 2020 and December 31, 2020. 

This program expired: What next? 

This program already expired and is no longer available. However, if you took advantage of this deferral, you must pay 50% of your tax payments by December 31, 2021. You must pay the remaining 50% by December 31, 2022. After these dates, penalties and other fees may begin to accrue. 

For more information about the Employer Payroll Tax Deferral, please click here.

Various aid programs aren’t the only changes COVID-19 brought to the workplace. The pandemic also introduced new practices that may have a long-term impact on your company policies. 

From sick leave procedures to sanitation requirements, it’s important to update your handbook and policies with any changes your business has made due to COVID-19. After all, clear policies can help ensure employee compliance and reduce potential liabilities. 

The following questions can help you determine what policy updates you need to make:

  • Did you change your sick leave policies due to COVID-19?
  • Are you voluntarily providing FFCRA-related leave? If so, how do you track this leave?
  • Have you changed your attendance policies? Did you create flexible schedules or stagger meal times to encourage social distancing?
  • What are your company procedures for social distancing, wearing masks, reporting illnesses, and maintaining other health and safety measures?
  • Have you restricted business travel or required employees to notify you of personal travel? 
  • Is remote work new to your business? Has your remote work policy changed? Have you updated your reimbursement policy for remote work?
  • Did you add new covered benefits as a result of COVID-19? Did you edit your COBRA and FSA documents with the latest updates?

To make this process easier, we created the Updating Your Company Handbook & Policies for COVID-19 Checklist. From attendance and travel policies to health insurance and safety measures, this checklist outlines the major items you may need to update in your existing company handbook.

To help manage a changing work environment, we couple our all-in-one HRIS SentricHR with support from real people at every step. With one platform for payroll, benefits, and HR, we make people management easier. Contact us today to find out more about how we can support you and your employees during COVID-19.

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