Yesterday President Trump announced an extension of federal guidelines on social distancing through April 30th in a continued effort to combat the novel coronavirus. Below is some recently released information on the $2 trillion emergency relief CARES Act and other guidance on coronavirus legislation and policies affecting the construction industry.

 

ABC Webinars:

ABC is working to prepare webinars for members to attend on the recently passed into law CARES Act and other critical policy including guidance on essential services for states and local communities. Stay tuned for alerts from ABC as we continue to work to provide critical updates on information from our government agencies. Additional COVID-19 resources are also available at https://abc.org/coronavirus.

 

CARES Act Emergency Aid:

With the CARES Act being signed into law on Friday, federal agencies are focused on providing the approximately $2 trillion in aid to Americans and businesses throughout the country.

For the nearly $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program, the SBA must issue regulations within 15 days of enactment of the CARES Act without regard to notice and comment requirements. Hence, it is possible that lenders could begin taking loan applications as soon as mid-April.

The PPP would provide 8 weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If the employer maintains payroll, the portion of the loans used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven, which would help workers to remain employed and affected small businesses and our economy to recover quickly from this crisis. This proposal would be retroactive to February 15, 2020, to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls.

Attached is a recently released FAQ for the small businesses provisions included in the bill from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Also, of note, to prevent double dipping into these relief efforts, businesses that receive an SBA loan through the Paycheck Protection Program cannot also benefit from the bill’s tax provisions including the retention tax credit and deferment of payroll taxes. Individual businesses should consult with their tax accountants and weigh the benefits of these individual tax and small business provisions included in the legislation to discover what works best for them and addresses their needs at this time.

 

FFCRA Guidance:

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published more guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it goes into effect on April 1, 2020.

The latest round of guidance includes questions and answers addressing critical issues such as the definition of a “health care provider,” and the scope of the small business exemption for purposes of exclusion from the provisions of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, as well as whether public sector employees may take paid family and medical leave. In addition, WHD posted its two recently released posters and fact sheets in Spanish on its COVID-19 website.

This guidance adds to a growing list of compliance assistance materials published by WHD, including the English-language versions of a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers, and two new required posters—one for federal workers and one for all other employees, as well as Questions and Answers about posting requirements, and a Field Assistance Bulletin describing WHD’s 30-day non-enforcement policy.

 

DHS Updated Guidance:

On March 28, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency issued additional guidance about types of construction activity deemed essential services during the COVID-19 crisis. This list is intended to help State, local, tribal and territorial officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.