The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020, and is the most massive economic relief bill in U.S. History. It will allocate $2.2 trillion in health care relief and emergency assistance for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
The CARES Act was designed to distribute capital quickly and broadly. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. (1)
Below you will find links to additional information, along with a few attachments, that may help covered businesses access the other resources available through the recently passed stimulus package:
Guidance from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship
For individuals and families, $250 billion has been allocated for direct payments in the form of recovery rebates to help soften the economic challenges many are currently facing. Recovery rebates are refundable tax credits that will be applied to 2020 tax returns but will be advanced to taxpayers now based on their 2019 or 2018 adjusted income.
How much of a rebate will I receive?
Individuals with a Social Security Number (SSN) and who are not dependents may receive $1,200 (single filers and heads of household) or $2,400 (joint filers), with an additional rebate of $500 per qualifying child, if they have adjusted gross income (AGI) under $75,000 (single), $150,000 (joint), or $112,500 (heads of household) using 2019 tax return information. (The IRS will use 2018 tax return information if the taxpayer has not yet filed for 2019.) The rebate phases out at $50 for every $1,000 of income earned above those thresholds. (2)
How do I get my rebate?
For most Americans, no action is required. The IRS will use data from the most current tax returns or Social Security data to provide a rebate to Americans either via direct deposit (if such information is available) or through a paper check in the mail to the last address on file.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he hopes to distribute rebates to taxpayers who e-filed with direct deposit banking information in three weeks. Taxpayers receiving rebate checks may have to wait six to eight weeks to receive a paper check in the mail.
Treasury will be developing a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online. Taxpayers will be able to receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail. (3)
Additional information regarding Rebate Relief, Social Security, Payroll Tax Changes, and Unemployment concerning the CARES Act can be found here:
Provisions of the CARES Act also address healthcare needs, expand individual access to retirement accounts, support education, and provide state and local governments with additional funds to help mitigate the on-going COVID-19 crisis.
To help our clients stay informed, Crane Agency has created a Coronavirus Preparedness Resources page to answer your most frequently asked questions. Many of our carriers have also made a variety of COVID-19 Resources available to assist clients during these uncertain times. We have included links to their websites below:
Please visit our blog for the latest Crane Agency updates, FAQs, and additional information related to COVID-19. We have also provided many additional resources below. For specific questions about your account, please contact your Crane Agency Broker Team.
What you need to know: Take steps to care for yourself and help protect others in your home and community.
– Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. – Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.
Watch for Symptoms: People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposureto the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
-Fever or chills -Cough -Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing -Fatigue -Muscle or body aches -Headache -New loss of taste or smell -Sore throat -Congestion or runny nose -Nausea or vomiting -Diarrhea
This list does not include all possible symptoms. The CDC has also provided a “Coronavirus Self-Checker“, as a useful guide to help make decisions on when to seek testing and appropriate medical care. This tool can be found on the CDC website on the “Symptoms of Coronavirus” page and will be updated as they learn more about COVID-19.
Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat by following the CDC’s most recent recommendations onHow to Protect Yourself & Others.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) took effect on April 1, 2020, and provides eligible workers with paid leave for reasons related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Covered employers should post notice of the FFCRA requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. A copy of the notification is linked below, along with a link to the US Department of Labor website, which provides additional guidance on paid leave requirements related to COVID-19. We have also provided an FFCRA Compliance Bulletin, which includes frequently asked questions issued by the DOL to assist employers and employees on their responsibilities and rights under the FFCRA, as well as a resource on the US Chamber website that outlines what businesses need to know.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes two new significant paid leave laws: (1) the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, and (2) the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. Both statutes address absences from work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both provisions are effective April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) This act creates a new form of FMLA leave covering up to 12 weeks of an eligible employee’s inability to work or telework “due to a need for leave to care for the son or daughter under 18 years of age of such employee if the school or place of care has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.”
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) Employees covered under the EPSLA are entitled to paid leave for several different types of absences related to the COVID-19 pandemic: – Is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 – Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19 – Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis – caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2) – Is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons – Is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Due to the speed at which these laws were enacted, the US Department of Labor has created a Q&A page to address questions and provide additional guidance:
With a massive $2 trillion allocated for businesses, individuals, federal agencies, and state and local governments, the CARES Act is designed to distribute capital quickly and broadly. Below you will find links to additional information, along with a few attachments, that may help covered businesses access the additional resources available through the recently passed stimulus package:
Monthly Wellness Newsletter and Benefits Info Updates:
January 2021 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates This month’s Crane Benefits Newsletter includes a number of updates including Reminders of the Importance of Focusing on Employee Mental Health, FAQ from Final Rule on Tip Regulations, COVID-19 Vaccine Coverage, an Attraction and Retention Newsletter, and Highlights of the Stimulus Bill including Special Rules for FSA’s. The FSA rules are very important to pay attention to as the Act provides temporary special rules for health and dependent care FSA’s that would give employees additional time to use these funds.
12/21/2020 – Emergency Stimulus Package Update On Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, Congress passed an emergency stimulus package designed to deliver approximately $900 billion in COVID-19-related aid. Notably, the bill provides funding for unemployment benefits, small businesses, direct economic payments to individuals, vaccine distribution and rental assistance. This article provides an overview of what is included within the emergency relief bill.
October 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates This month’s Crane Benefits Newsletter includes a number of updates including Tips for Open Enrollment during COVID times, Recognizing Requests for ADA Accommodation, Supporting Employee Behavioral Health, Updates to State Leave Requirements, Combating Pandemic Fatigue, Updates to DOL FAQ’s on Employee Leave Under FFCRA among others.
September 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates This month’s Crane Benefits Newsletter includes a number of updates related to IRS Guidance on Payroll Tax Deferment (which starts today for those willing to participate), Strategies to Reduce Benefits Costs, Open Enrollment Notices, ACA Pay or Play Penalties, Encouraging Employees to Take PTO and DOL Guidance on Tracking Hours for Remote Workers.
08.11.2020 – Pandemic Relief Update On Aug. 8, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order and three memorandums to address pandemic relief in response to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. After ongoing negotiations for a relief package between the White House and lawmakers collapsed, the executive actions extend pandemic unemployment benefits, student loan payment deferrals, eviction protections for renters, and payroll tax cuts. The linked News Brief explains further.
06.04.2020 – Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 Congress has passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, which is a bill that provides borrowers with greater flexibility in spending Paycheck Protection Program funds without compromising forgiveness eligibility. The bill has been sent to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it into law. This In the Know article provides an overview of the bill.
June 2020 – Crane Agency Wellness Newsletter, Benefit News & Compliance Updates Updates include Common Employment Practices Claims Arising Out of COVID-19, Guidance for handling the influx of remote work requests as offices and work sites reopen, HSA/HDHP Limits Increase for 2021, Guidance for creating and maintaining a strong company culture in the remote workplace, COVID-19 Guidance for Section 125 Mid-year Election Change Rules, Exploring options to help employees manage their chronic conditions during these uncertain times, an Employee Welcome Back Packet (which requires customization on your end to make this specific to your situation/company) & a Welcome Back to Work letter. We have also included our June Wellness Newsletter, HR Brief & Benefits Buzz.
05.11.2020 – DOL Issues Emergency Extensions to Cobra On May 7, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued additional answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how employers should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during the coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic. The additional FAQs were added to guidance that the EEOC originally issued on March 18, 2020, and updated on April 9, 17, and 23, 2020. The attached HR Compliance Bulletin contains the EEOC’s FAQs. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, employees may have questions about their dependent care benefits, including whether they can make changes to their pre-tax contributions. The attached Compliance Bulletin highlights key legal rules for dependent care assistance programs (DCAPs) and summarizes how the rules apply to employees impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
On May 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued new model notices that group health plans may use to use to comply with COBRA notification requirements. Use of the models is not mandatory but considered to be good-faith compliance with COBRA’s content requirements. As explained in a set of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) the DOL also issued on May 1, 2020, the updated model notices aim to help qualified beneficiaries better understand the interactions between Medicare and COBRA. The notices can be found here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra
Other updates include our Sample Return to Work Action Plan Discussion Guide, Post-Coronavirus Workplace Preparedness Checklist, Post-Coronavirus Workplace Preparedness Checklist, our HR Toolkit focused on Onboarding Remote Employees & a Guide to Creating a Return to Work Action Plan.
04.22.2020 – Benefits Accounts & High Deductible Health Plans
Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts If you have an HSA or FSA, you can now purchase over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medications without the need for a prescription. Feminine hygiene products have also been deemed qualified medical expenses and can be purchased with both HSA and FSA funds. Both are permanent changes to the eligible expenses list and include retroactive purchases made after 12/31/2019. Retailers are updating their systems so you may need to pay out-of-pocket for these expenses and file claims for reimbursement so please keep your receipts.
HDHP (HSA Medical) The IRS announced (Notice 2020-15) that High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) can cover the cost of testing and treating of COVID-19 before participants have met their deductible without losing the plan’s status as an HDHP. This means individuals enrolled in an HSA that covers the cost of COVID-19 related expenses will remain eligible to make tax-advantaged contributions to their Health Savings Account (HSA).
What are the steps that an individual can take to avoid contracting COVID-19?
How can I protect others from COVID-19?
When should a person wear a facemask?
What are the latest updates on COVID-19?
How can schools, healthcare professionals, healthcare facilities, health departments, and laborites prevent the spread of COVID-19?
The CDC has also created a “Coronavirus Self-Checker“, as a useful guide to help employees make decisions on when to seek testing and appropriate medical care.
This tool can be found on the CDC website on the “Symptoms of Coronavirus” page and will be updated as they learn more about COVID-19. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. Everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat by following the CDC’s most recent recommendations onHow to Protect Yourself & Others.
Where can I find guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19?
Where can I find additional information on Health & Safety Topics related to COVID-19?
National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI)
Impact of COVID-19 on Workers’ Compensation Insurance (Video) NCCI and the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) held a live webinar on the impact of COVID-19 and workers compensation. Experts discussed top-of-mind issues and reviewed important tools and resources that support informed decision-making for the industry. View the video below to see highlights from the webinar.
OSHA has also created a webpageon the US Department of Labor website with information for workers and employers about the evolving coronavirus outbreak. The CDC has provided educational materials and interim guidance for Businesses and Families on their website. Recommended strategies for employers to use now:
Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
Talk with companies that provide your business with temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.
Separate sick employees
CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).
Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time. Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps
Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from China, and information for aircrew, can be found on the CDC website.
Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
If outside the United States, sick employees should follow your company’s policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.
Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the COVID-19
Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
We will continue to monitor current events, and provide updates as they become available. For the latest information, please visit the Crane Agency Blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. As with any developing situation please consult local and governmental health agencies for the newest developments.
If you need help understanding the 2 Trillion Dollar Stimulus Package, you are not alone. In this update we have included a document that provides an overview of the package, which is designed to provide financial assistance for those struggling as a result of the coronavirus (COVD-19) outbreak. Another attachment contains answers to questions employees may have about those payments.
COVID-19 has caused many employers across the country to make significant changes to their standard procedures, including shifting their employees from working at the office to working from home. We have prepared a guide to serve as an introduction to managing remote employees which includes best practices for keeping employees engaged. It should be used for informational purposes only and not be considered as legal advice. You will also find a Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) Poster. Applicable employers should post and/or send employees electronically no later than April 2nd.
Finally, carriers continue to schedule webinars and FAQ’s as they attempt to keep us all posted on changes as a result of COVID-19. Here are a few you may consider:
We have included the schedule below for the next round of COVID-19 Update Briefings for UnitedHealthcare brokers, consultants and customers. Due to the fluidity of this situation, replays are not available for the external calls. UnitedHealthcare is committed to keeping its brokers, consultants, and employers informed, and they encourage attendance to the live weekly calls., which are scheduled as follows: