COVID - 19 Info for Businesses
This page is for business owners needing to keep up to date with new federal and state laws and guidelines due to COVID - 19. We'll update this page with new information as we get it.
Survey - How Employers are Responding to COVID - 19
On March 31st ThinkHR did a survey - how are employers responding to COVID - 19? What's on their mind? The survey received over 1,400 responses.
While March 31st is only 2 weeks ago, it's a long time on the COVID clock. Nevertheless, we think the results and insights are still valuable.
FAQs - Paycheck Protection Program and Related Issues
Paycheck Protection Program
1. How much can I borrow from the Paycheck Protection Loan?
Loans can be for 2.5 months of average monthly payroll for the 12 months preceding the date the loan is made or $10 million – whichever is less.
2. Do I need to repay the loan?
All or some of the paycheck protection loan may be forgiven (covered into a grant). There are specific requirements about how you spend the loan and if you continue to employ your workers in order for it to be forgiven.
3. Where do I apply for a loan?
Any SBA approved lender. This includes individual lenders, including many banks, credit unions and some online lenders will make these loans.
4. What can I use the funds for?
- Payroll costs
- costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave and insurance premiums
- employee salaries, commissions or similar compensations
- payments on interest on any mortgage obligation, rent, and utilities
- interest on any other debt obligations that were incurred before the covered period, refinancing on SBA EIDL loan made between January 31,2020 and April 3, 2020.
5. What if I have already laid off employees or cut pay?
If you have already laid off workers, you have until June 30, 2020 to restore full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020.
1. Can I still get life insurance with Coronavirus 19 included?
Yes, but some of the life carrier quickly making changes.
2. Can I procure Life insurance online?
Yes, all underlying can be done online.
Furloughs and Layoffs
1. Is an employer able to pay for all or a portion of laid-off employee’s COBRA coverage?
Yes, so long as any subsidies are non-discriminatory. This method is not recommended, however, for self-funded plans.
2. If benefits are extended to a furloughed employee, how will the employee submit payments for their portion?
It is recommended that the employer pays for the entire premium and that employee shares are recouped once an employee returns. Refer to state laws regarding prior sign-off from employees.
1. How do I keep my office healthy and safe?
Employers can and should continue to tell employees that if they have a cough, fever, runny nose or other cold or flu-like symptoms, they should stay at home and not risk exposing others to illness. In localities such as Chicago, employees are required by public health order to remain home if they display any symptoms of COVID-19.
General Health & Safety
1. When should I call a medical provider?
If you have a fever or cough, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. Keep track of your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), get medical attention right away.
2. Who pays for COVID - 19 diagnostic testing if necessary?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) are presently covering the lab test fees for the presence of COVID - 19. However, hospitals might still charge their own fees for collecting the lab work, which could then be billed to the patient or to the patient’s health insurance carrier. Make sure to call your insurance provider to discuss available coverage.
3. Should I fill or refill my current prescription drugs in anticipation of an emergency?
The CDC and the American Red Cross suggest that households maintain at least a 30-day supply of any prescription drugs at all times to prepare for unforeseen events. The CDC has encouraged health insurance carriers to do all that they can to allow people to fill more than a 30-day supply of a prescription drug at one time (subject to the limits of the prescription written by the provider). The Department does not recommend stockpiling prescriptions that are highly vulnerable to abuse (i.e. opioids that may be restricted to a 7-day prescription).
Filing for Illinois Unemployment
Thanks to Wade Meyer with Payroll Solutions, Inc for this update.
The state has already shut down their facilities to the public. If you are planning on laying off your employees due to a slowdown in your business, you can direct your employees to the IDES website at The customer service hotline at the IDES is 800-244-5631.
For any employee filing for unemployment due to a slowdown related to COVID-19 the IDES is waiving the requirement to be actively looking for a job, they would just have to state they would be prepared to return to their job as soon as there is availability.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Thanks to wade Meyer with Payroll Solutions, Inc for this update.
The Federal Law known as “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” signed into law on Wednesday March 18th, 2020.
There are a couple of main provisions that will impact our small business community. An amendment to the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and a new requirement requiring businesses with less than 500 employees offer mandatory paid time off due COVID 19.
- FMLA – This new law will require businesses with less than 500 employees certain protections for employees that choose to take a leave due to issues relating COVID 19. This will include full and part time employees that have been employed at least 30 days. This would apply to employees that have to take leave due to the COVID-19 illness that they may have or someone under their care may have. This also includes having to take care of children under the age of 18 that are required to stay home from school.
- First 10 days employers are not required to pay compensation.
- After the 10 days employers are required to pay 2/3rds of the employee’s normal salary up to $200 per day or $10,000 in the aggregate. Part time or variable hour employee’s compensation will be based on the average of the preceding 6 months.
- Once the employee returns to work the employers are required to reinstate them in their old position or if that position no longer exists a similar position with the same pay and benefits.
- For employers with less than 25 employees there may be other options if their position no longer exists.
- Paid Sick Leave – This would require employers with less than 500 employees to pay full and part time employees 2 weeks paid sick time due to 1 of 6 following reasons:
- Self-isolation due to being diagnosed with COVID-19
- Need to obtain a medical diagnosis for COVID-19
- Having to comply with a healthcare provider or public official to stay at home due to COVID-19.
- Caring for another individual that has been quarantined.
- Caring for a son or daughter that has been quarantined.
- The Secretary of Health issues other similar conditions as COVID-19
- Written into the law is language that would allow the Secretary of Labor to exempt certain businesses with less than 50 employees from this requirement. At this point it is not quite clear what that would look like or what types of businesses would be exempted.
For reasons 1-3 the benefits are to be paid out a 100% with a cap of $511 per day and a total of $5,110 total. For reasons 4-6 at 2/3rds pay with a cap of $200 per and a total of $2,000.
For any benefits that are paid out, the federal government is offering a dollar for dollar credit against your Social Security tax on your quarterly federal 941 payroll return.
This law will go into effect April 2, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
Updated FAQs for this law
Do I, the employer, have to pay my employee who can’t work due to COVID - 19?
If an employer has less than 500 employees, they are required to pay a full-time employee up to 80 hours of sick pay up to $511 per day. The employer is prohibited from requiring the employee to exhaust their regular company provided paid leave before using the paid sick time under the act.
What if I, as an employer, can’t afford to comply with the above mentioned act?
The employer will be eligible to receive a tax credit in the full amount (up to $511 per day) for the individuals on leave. If the employer has less than 50 and the payout is too much of an immediate strain, you can request an employee exception.
Here’s a good article from Instant Insights on How the Coronavirus Affects HR, Benefits, and Retirement Professionals.
By when am I required to post the expanded FMLA guidelines under the Families First Coronavirus Act?
Can employees continue with their health benefits while collecting unemployment?