[ Updated April 3, 2020 |3:30pm ]
At YHB we work with clients in the Construction Industry across the region, of all shapes and sizes. Over the past few days we have been in touch with many of our clients as we work together to lead through this pandemic. Below we have included some ideas and updates to help your business during this time.
Defense and Civilian Agencies
Construction businesses, rightfully so, are concerned how COVID-19 will impact federal and state contracts moving forward. While the construction industry has been deemed essential by the Federal Government and most states, contractors are still left wondering about the future. The Association for General Contractors recently requested some of these agencies provide guidance and planning updates for potential impacts due COVID-19. Below is a link to responses they have received from many of the agencies.
As to be expected this early on in a pandemic, most agencies responded that they are following health guidelines issued by the CDC and each local agency representative will be equipped to make some of their own decisions. Generally, the agencies stated that they expect operations to continue, albeit slower than normal as workers adjust to working remotely.
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced that the federal income tax filing and payment deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020.
- If you expect a refund, individual Federal Income Taxes should be complete ASAP so you can receive your refund
- Taxpayers don’t need to file any additional forms to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief.
- States are not all following the same guidelines set by the Federal Government. So check with us on how your state return may be affected.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
President Trump has signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Among other things, the new law:
- Requires certain employers to provide paid leave benefits to employees affected by the coronavirus outbreak;
- Expands unemployment benefits and offers grants to states to process and pay claims; and
- Mandates coverage of coronavirus testing with no cost-sharing.
The Act also provides a payroll tax credit to employers that pay sick leave wages for qualified purposes. The credit for each employee equals up to 100% of his or her wages, limited to $511 per day for self-care, or $200 if the sick leave is to care for a family member or child whose school is closed.
Click Here for additional information provided by the Department of Labor.
Information from EEOC
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued additional guidance on March 19, 2020 on how businesses can deal with COVID-19. Their clarifications were in part to address workplace anti-discrimination laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. Specifically, of items needing to be addressed were the requirements for reasonable accommodations and rules about medical examinations and inquiries.
The EEOC states, “The ADA and Rehabilitation Act rules continue to apply, but they do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19.”
It’s important to note you should always consult with your HR Team or attorney. The information contained in this blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Below is a list of principals to practice the EEOC deemed acceptable during a pandemic:
- During a pandemic, ADA-covered employers may ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of the pandemic virus.
- Employers may measure employees’ body temperature.
- The CDC states that employees who become ill with symptoms of COVID-19 should leave the workplace. The ADA does not interfere with employers following this advice.
- Employers are allowed to require a Doctor’s note before allowing employees to return to work.
- An employer may screen job applicants for symptoms of COVID-19 after making a conditional job offer, as long as it does so for all entering employees in the same type of job.
Construction Jobsite Safety
The ABC National Safety Committee recently created a list of practical tips jobsite leaders should be doing during the COVID-19 outbreak. Including:
- Provide training for supervisors, employees and other key personnel to recognize signs any symptoms of COVID-19, as specific by the CDC
- Schedule daily toolbox talks to communicate news concerning the virus/project, etc. and to visually assess your crew’s health
- Meetings remind employees to keep 6 feet of personal space
- Review, update and communicate your “fit for duty” policy, including the requirement to provide a return to work pass if seen by a physician
Paycheck Protection Program
The Department of Treasury has released the Paycheck Protection Program application and supplemental information. Interested applicants can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. According to the SBA, other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan
Small business owners in all U.S. states are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to COVID-19. To apply for the loan and find additional information on the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster visit here. Applicants are encouraged to apply online.
We will continue to share helpful tips and resources on key issues as they develop to ensure you are prepared to navigate these unprecedented issue.