State's response to protect businesses
The state has taken steps protect our businesses and residents during the coronavirus crisis. In addition to documents on various state and federal guidance, among the growing list of resources and information is:
State DOL Frequently Asked Questions for employers and employees (including unemployment filings)
The state's Department of Labor has prepared a guide of questions and answers for questions that could arise due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Examples of questions include:
If an employer decides to keep the business open, but the employee elects not to report for work, must the employee be paid?
Is there an alternative to laying off my employees if business has slowed down as a result of COVID-19?
Gov. Lamont's executive order closing "non essential" businessesGov. Lamont on Friday, March 20 announced an executive order regarding the closure of all "non essential" businesses as a strategy to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The order took effect Monday, March 23.
His administration, through the state's Department of Economic and Community Development, subsequently issued clarifying guidance to business owners, employees, and residents who may have questions about what types of businesses are exempt from the order. Click here to read the guidance.
Any business that has only a single occupant/employee is deemed exempt and need not submit a request.
Questions? Submit them to DECD at firstname.lastname@example.org
Help for those without health insurance
As COVID-19 threatens public health, Access Health CT has announced a new special enrollment period for uninsured Connecticut residents. The new special enrollment period that ends Thursday, April 2. Click here for more information.
Federal information for employers and workers
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security(CARES) Act that was signed by the President on March 27 and includes several important benefits for small businesses and nonprofits in Connecticut:
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans: Provide cash-flow assistance through federally-guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payroll, the loans will be forgiven.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Injury Grants: An emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private nonprofits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Grants and loans may be used to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.
Small Business Debt Relief Program: Provides immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. Under this program, the SBA will cover all loan payments on previously secured SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months.
Employee Retention Credit for Employers Subject to Closure or Experiencing Economic Hardship: A refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis.
Delay of Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes: Allows taxpayers to defer paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020, with all 2020 deferred amounts due in two equal installments, one at the end of 2021, the other at the end of 2022.
Counseling and Training: Local resource partners can be found here.
In addition to the above initiatives, employers should also be aware of the following programs:
Federal Emergency Paid Leave Program: Through the end of 2020, employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide 80 hours of paid sick leave and 10 weeks of paid family leave. Note that employers will be reimbursed by the IRS for 100% of the paid leave in 2 weeks or less. They will also be reimbursed for employees’ health care premiums during leave. The current IRS guidance can be found here.
CT DOL’s Shared Work Program: Allows employers to reduce employees’ hours by up to 60% and DOL will step in to provide unemployment insurance (UI) benefits that help offset the lost wages, as well as the new federal UI supplement. More information about the program can be found here.
Many of these programs are also open to self-employed individuals.
The state's DECD encourages Connecticut businesses to act quickly to take advantage of the many resources being provided by the stateand federal government during this crisis. Businesses should review these resources and reach out to lenders, landlords, and others as you consider making difficult decisions at this time.
Beware of Scammers
The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) is working with the National Business Emergency Operations Center (NBEOC) to stop scammers. NAIFA’s consumer site provides individuals and businesses with information to avoid scams, tips on who to contact regarding health claims/questions, as well as how to find licensed, knowledgeable, ethical professionals to assist with financial security planning.