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Coronavirus Resources for Small Businesses
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Coronavirus Resources for Louisiana Small Businesses

LSBA's team of experts is working hard to keep you updated on how the coronavirus impacts your business.­ We update this site frequently, but you can sign up for our e-alerts to get updates as they happen.­ Click here to sign up for LSBA's e-Alerts.

If you need help or have a question about the pandemic and your business, you can email our experts at info@louisianasba.org.

(This information was last updated 11/25/20.)

LOUISIANA IMPOSES NEW RESTRICTIONS DUE TO COVID-19

Due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Louisiana, Governor Edwards is imposing tighter restrictions on businesses effective Wednesday, November 25, 2020. The Governor is requiring reduced occupancy at some businesses, decreased gathering sizes, and limits on indoor consumption at bars.­ The Governor also urges everyone in Louisiana to avoid gatherings with people outside of their households.

Major changes to Louisiana’s COVID-19 restrictions include the following:

  • All businesses are encouraged to allow employees to work remotely if they can.
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  • Restaurants are limited to 50% of their indoor capacity (previous capacity was 75%). Restaurants should move as much dining outdoors as they can. The 50% capacity counts both the number of employees and members of the public as determined by the State Fire Marshal. Social distancing is required. Waiting areas must be closed. Drive-up and curbside delivery is still allowed.
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  • Bars (with or without food service permits) in parishes above 5% positivity as determined by the Louisiana Department of Health are not allowed to serve customers indoors.­ Customers may be served outdoors only, with capacity limited to 25% and a maximum of 50 people. Social distancing is required. Take-out and delivery is still allowed.
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  • Bars (with or without food service permits) in parishes at or below 5% positivity for at least two weeks can serve customers indoors, with capacity limited to 25% and a maximum of 50 people.­ They must close by 11 p.m. Social distancing is required. Take-out and delivery is still allowed.
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  • Retail businesses are limited to 50% capacity (previous capacity was 75%), except for essential businesses, as defined by federal guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Click here for more information.
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  • Gyms may be open at 50% of their capacity (previously 75% capacity).
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  • Barber/beauty shops and nail salons may open at 50% of their capacity (previously 75% capacity).
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  • Indoor gatherings at event/receptions centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 75 individuals (previous capacity was 50% of total occupancy or 250 people max).
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  • Outdoor gatherings at event/reception centers are limited to 25% capacity or up to 150 individuals when strict physical distancing is not possible.

Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate is still in place.­

For complete guidance on the new restrictions, visit the Open Safely portal at opensafely.la.gov.

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LOUISIANA STATEWIDE MASK MANDATE

Governor Edwards has extended the statewide mask mandate in Louisiana. The mask requirement does not apply to customers eating and drinking in a restaurant.

As a service to our members, LSBA has designed a generic mask poster for our members to notify customers and employees that masks or face coverings are required to be worn inside their business.

You can print LSBA's "Masks Required" poster here in English and here in Spanish.

The Governor’s order requires face coverings for everyone ages 8 and older with a few exceptions. Click here for details.

­Both OSHA and the CDC recommend the use of masks or face coverings to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

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CDC GUIDANCE FOR EMPLOYERS WITH SUSPECTED OR CONFIRMED COVID CASES

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidance for employers that have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 at their workplace. This e-Alert is a summary of the CDC’s information. Details can be found at the CDC’s website.

What should I do if an employee comes to work with COVID-19 symptoms?

Employees who have symptoms when they arrive at work or become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home. Employees who develop symptoms outside of work should notify their supervisor and stay home.

Sick employees should follow the CDC recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until they have met the criteria to stop home isolation and have consulted with a healthcare provider.

Employers should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or healthcare provider’s note to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.

What should I do if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19?

In most cases, you do not need to shut down your workplace. But you should close off any areas that the sick person used for prolonged periods of time.

In addition to cleaning and disinfecting, you should determine which employees may have been exposed to the virus and need to take additional precautions:

  • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform the other employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but should maintain confidentiality by not revealing the name of the employee who tested positive.
  • Employees who test positive for COVID-19 should not come to work and should isolate at home if they do not need to be hospitalized and follow the CDC recommended steps.
  • Workplaces should follow the CDC’s recommended precautions for people exposed to COVID and tell potentially exposed employees to stay home for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms.

Employees should not return to work until they have met the criteria to stop home isolation and have consulted with a healthcare provider.

If employees have been exposed but are not showing symptoms, should I allow them to work?

Employees may have been exposed if they have been within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time.

Exposed employees who do not have symptoms should remain at home and practice social distancing for 14 days.

All other employees should self-monitor for symptoms and wear cloth face coverings when in public. If they develop symptoms, they should notify their supervisor and stay home.

What should I do if I find out several days later, after an employee worked, that they were diagnosed with COVID?

If it has been less than 7 days since the sick employee was in the workplace, you should clean and disinfect all areas used by the sick employee following the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.

If it has been 7 or more days since the sick employee was in the workplace, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Continue routinely cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces in the workplace.

Other employees may have been exposed if they were in within 6 feet of the sick employee for a prolonged period of time (longer than 15 minutes):

  • If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, you should inform the other employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality by not revealing the name of the employee who tested positive.­
  • Employees who have symptoms should self-isolate and follow the CDC recommended steps.
  • Employees who were potentially exposed but have no symptoms should remain at home or in a comparable setting and practice social distancing for 14 days.
  • Employees not considered exposed should self-monitor for symptoms. If they develop symptoms, they should notify their supervisor and stay home.

When should an employee suspected or confirmed with having COVID-19 return to work?

Employers do not need to require a sick employee to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or healthcare provider’s note to return to work. Employees with COVID-19 who have stayed home can stop home isolation and return to work when they have met one of the following criteria:

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms may return to work if:

  • They have gone at least 3 days (72 hours) without a fever and have improvement in respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath); and
  • At least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.

OR

  • They have no fever and
  • They have improvement in respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath), and
  • They have negative results from at least two consecutive COVID tests done at least 24 hours apart.

People who test positive for COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms may return to work if:

  • At least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 test assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms since then.

OR

They have negative results from at least two consecutive COVID tests done at least 24 hours apart.

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SHOULD BUSINESSES SCREEN EMPLOYEES FOR SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19?

The goal of screening your employees for COVID-19 symptoms is to identify employees who may be sick so you can prevent them from coming to work, which protects your other employees from exposure to the coronavirus.­ Screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19 is an optional strategy that employers may use; it is not mandatory.

Screening employees is not completely effective at stopping COVID-19 because asymptomatic individuals or individuals with mild non-specific symptoms may not realize they are infected and may pass through screening. Screening is not a replacement for protective measures such as social distancing and face coverings.

If your business decides to screen employees, you can either require employees to self-screen, or you can have an employee conduct the screening.­ Here is a summary of the CDC recommendations for screening employees:

Self-Screening

For self-screening, employees screen themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and should stay home from work if:

  • The employee has symptoms of COVID-19, such as:

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    • Fever or chills
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Muscle or body aches
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

*Please note: Symptoms may appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure to the virus and may be mild or severe. This list does not include all possible symptoms.­

  • The employee has a fever of 100.4oF or higher
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  • The employee is under evaluation for COVID-19 (for example, waiting for the results of a viral test to confirm infection)
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  • The employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is not yet cleared to discontinue isolation

Employer Screening

If you decide to use a member of your staff to screen your employees rather than relying on them to self-screen, consider which symptoms to include in your assessment. Although there are many different symptoms that may be associated with COVID-19 (see partial list above), you may not want to treat every employee with a single non-specific symptom (e.g., a headache) as a suspected case of COVID-19 and send them home.

Consider focusing the screening questions on “new” or “unexpected” symptoms (e.g., a chronic cough would not be a positive screen) such as the following:

  • Fever or feeling feverish (chills, sweating)
  • New cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • New loss of taste or smell

Protection of Screeners

Employers can use either social distancing or physical barriers to protect the employee(s) conducting the screening and minimize their contact with an employee who might be contagious.

  • Social Distancing: Ask employees to take their own temperature either before coming to work or upon arrival at work.­Upon their arrival, the screener should stand at least 6 feet away from the employee and:

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    • Ask the employee to confirm that their temperature is less than 100.4o F and confirm that they are not experiencing coughing or shortness of breath.
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    • Make a visual inspection of the employee for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks or fatigue.
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    • Screening staff do not need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) if they can maintain a distance of 6 feet.
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  • Barrier/Partition Controls: During screening, the screener stands behind a physical barrier, such as a glass or plastic window or partition, that can protect the screener’s face and mucous membranes from respiratory droplets that may be produced when the employee being screened sneezes, coughs, or talks. The screener should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, if soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Then:

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    • Make a visual inspection of the employee for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks or fatigue.
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    • Conduct temperature and symptom screening using this protocol:

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      • Put on disposable gloves.
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      • Check the employee’s temperature, reaching around the partition or through the window. Make sure the screener’s face stays behind the barrier at all times during the screening.
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      • If performing a temperature check on multiple individuals, a clean pair of gloves should be used for each employee and the thermometer should be thoroughly cleaned in between each check. If disposable or non-contact thermometers are used and there is no physical contact with an individual, gloves do not need to be changed before the next check.
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    • After screening, the employee conducting the screening should remove their gloves and wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

If screening reveals an employee has symptoms, when can they safely return to work?

The CDC finds that people with mild to moderate COVID-19 stop being infectious 10 days after their symptoms begin, so the CDC guidelines allow people to stop quarantining and return to work if at least 10 days have passed since the employee first started having symptoms and at least 24 hours have passed since they stopped having a fever.­ People with more severe cases of COVID-19 or who are severely immunocompromised may be contagious up to 20 days after symptom onset, so these employees may need to continue their quarantine for 20 days.­

People who test positive for COVID-19 but who never develop symptoms may stop their isolation and other precautions 10 days after the date of their first positive test.

For more information from the CDC about the length of time employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine, click here.

For general guidance for businesses from the CDC, click here.

The CDC has a poster to educate your employees about the symptoms of COVID-19 here.

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PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM (PPP) LOAN FORGIVENESS

For the past few months, a bill has been pending in Congress that would automatically forgive PPP loans under $150,000. If this law is approved, small businesses who received a PPP loan of less than $150,000 would have their loan automatically forgiven without having to file the forgiveness application with their bank. Congress still has not approved automatic forgiveness of PPP loans for small businesses and businesses must apply for forgiveness by the deadline.

The deadline to apply for a PPP loan was August 8, 2020; no new applications are being accepted. If your business received a PPP loan, you can apply to have your loan forgiven (which means you don’t have to pay it back) if the loan is used for approved expenses.

To be eligible for forgiveness, at least 60% of your PPP loan must be used to pay for employee payroll (salary/wages, health insurance, retirement, paid leave, and state unemployment taxes) and no more than 40% of the loan on business expenses for rent, utilities (including phone and internet bills), and mortgage interest.

The current deadline to apply for PPP forgiveness is 10 months after the end of your loan’s “covered period.” The covered period is the length of time that you must spend your loan after receiving it.­
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If you received your PPP loan before June 5, 2020, your loan’s covered period is either 8 weeks or 24 weeks after the date you received your loan, whichever you choose. If you received your PPP loan after June 5, 2020, your loan’s covered period is 24 weeks after the date you received your loan.
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If you do not apply for forgiveness within 10 months of the end of your loan’s covered period, your PPP loan will become an actual loan that you will have to pay back with a 1% interest rate for a term of 2 years (if your loan was approved prior to June 5, 2020) or 5 years (if your loan was approved after June 5, 2020).

For PPP Loans of $50,000 or Less:

If your business received a PPP loan of $50,000 or less, you can use a new, one-page application to apply for forgiveness of your loan.­ This new simplified form, Form 3508S, requires fewer calculations and less documentation than the other two PPP forgiveness applications.

You are eligible to use the new Form 3508S even if you had to lay off employees or reduce your employees’ wages during the pandemic.

Form 3508S only requires your company to confirm that its PPP loan was used for eligible costs (payroll, including health insurance and retirement benefits paid by the company; business utilities; and business rent) and to provide supporting documentation showing payment of these expenses during the covered period.

For payroll costs, you will need to submit documentation that shows the cash compensation (wages) paid to employees and non-cash benefits (amounts the company paid on behalf of employees for health insurance and retirement benefits) the company paid during the covered period.­ Each of the following is required:

  • Bank statements (or reports from your company’s payroll service) that show the wages paid to employees;
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  • Payroll tax filings with the IRS (941s); and
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  • Receipts, cancelled checks, or bank statements showing the amount of employer contributions to employee health insurance and retirement plans that you included in your company’s forgiveness amount (receipts for health insurance and retirement are only required if you are including these expenses in your forgiveness amount).

For non-payroll costs,you will need to submit documentation verifying eligible payments during the covered period for:

  • Rent: ­A copy of the current lease agreement as well as receipts or cancelled checks showing actual payments during the covered period.
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  • Utilities: Copies of invoices showing these expenses as well as receipts, cancelled checks, or bank statements showing actual payments during the covered period.

The only calculation required on Form 3508S is the amount of forgiveness the company is applying for.­ If the company spent its entire PPP loan on approved expenses during the covered period, the amount of forgiveness will equal the amount of the PPP loan.­ Please note:­ The amount of forgiveness you request on Form 3508S cannot exceed the amount of your original PPP loan.

Under the extended 24-week covered period, businesses will probably have used their entire PPP loan on payroll costs and will not have to include any non-payroll costs like rent and utilities in their forgiveness application.­ If your company received a PPP loan of $50,000 or less and used the entire PPP amount on payroll to employees, you can simply submit bank statements or cancelled checks plus the 941s you filed during the covered period as proof that you spent the loan on payroll.

Click here for the new simplified Form 3508S and here for the instructions on how to fill it out.

For PPP Loans Over $50,000:

If your business received a PPP loan over $50,000, there are two loan forgiveness applications available. If your business had to lay off employees or reduce employee wages during the pandemic, you will need to use Form 3508. The detailed instructions for this form are available here. For Spanish, click here.

If your business did not reduce the number of employees or their wages by more than 25%, you can use a simplified application – Form 3508EZ. The instructions for this form are available here.

The amount of your PPP loan forgiveness can be reduced if you have fewer employees or lower employee salaries after receiving your loan than you did before the pandemic. If you hire furloughed employees back or restore their pre-coronavirus salaries by December 31, 2020, your forgiveness will not be penalized.

You won’t be penalized for reducing your employees if you have made a good faith written offer to rehire a laid-off employee who refuses to return to work. If you try to re-hire a furloughed employee and they refuse to come back to work, this will not count against you as long as you document your rehire offer in writing (email is fine) and document the employee’s response so you can prove that you tried to rehire them but they refused your offer.

Employees who were fired for cause, voluntarily resigned, or who voluntarily requested a reduction in their hours don’t count against you for loan forgiveness. Again, make sure to make to document these decisions in writing (email is fine). And if you can document that you are unable to re-hire employees who were on your payroll as of February 15, 2020 and you can’t hire similarly-qualified individuals to fill their positions by December 31, 2020, you can still get full loan forgiveness.

Also, if you can’t go back to your pre-pandemic staffing levels because your business is complying with worker or customer social distancing measures, your loan forgiveness will not be penalized.

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OTHER LOANS & FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR BUSINESSES

Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program (LPGP)

The Louisiana Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program (LPGP) is a new state program that will offer loans of up to $100,000 to Louisiana small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Loans can be used for normal business operations, such as payroll, rent or mortgages, utilities, and other expenses.­ ­­­

The loan repayment period is at least one year but no more than 5 years. The interest rate would be fixed up to 3.5% (lower rates subject to lending institution).

No payment will be due and interest will not accrue during the first six months of the loan.

Ineligible businesses are those solely engaged in gaming, non-profit organizations, real estate developers, pawn shops, pay-day loans, lending and investment concerns, or speculative activities.­ Periodic reporting including, but not limited to, compliance with the borrower’s obligations, will be required on the loan.

Loan details can be found at www.ledbizloan.com.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLS)

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to small businesses unable to pay their operating expenses due to loss of revenue from the coronavirus. EIDL loans have a 3.75% interest rate, a 30-year maturity, and automatic deferment of payments for one year. To download an application for an EIDL loan, go to covid19relief.sba.gov

Update:­ As of July 12, 2020, the SBA has discontinued their free EIDL grants of $1,000 per employee (up to $10,000) that don’t have to be paid back.­ Businesses needing cash can apply for a traditional EIDL loan, but not the cash advance.­

Main Street Lending Program

The Main Street Lending Program will offer 5-year loans to eligible small businesses that were in good financial standing before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Principal and interest payments on the loans will be deferred for one year. Businesses that have applied for a PPP loan may also take out a loan under the Main Street Program.

Unlike loans under the PPP, Main Street Program loans are not forgivable and borrowers will be responsible for paying the loan back plus interest charges.­

To apply for a Main Street loan, contact your local banker. For more information, please click here.

For information on Louisiana Business Financial Aid

https://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/2419

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BUSINESSES CAN DEFER PART OF THEIR PAYROLL TAX UNTIL NEXT YEAR

Employers are responsible for withholding Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes from their employees’ paychecks and paying these taxes along with the employer’s share to the IRS each month.­ The Social Security tax is 12.4% total, with 6.2% withheld from the employee’s wages and the employer paying 6.2%.­ The Medicare tax is 2.9%, with 1.45% withheld from the employee’s wages and the employer paying 1.45%.

As part of aid to businesses provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), employers can defer depositing the employer’s share of Social Security taxes until December 2021. For payroll periods starting March 27th through the end of this year, employers may defer their share of the Social Security tax (6.2%) and not deposit it with the IRS. Instead of depositing the usual amount of payroll tax, employers can simply hold back their portion of the Social Security tax each month and use it for other operating expenses.­ *Please note this only applies to the employer’s portion of the Social Security tax.­ Employers may not defer the employee’s part of the Social Security tax, and employers must still deposit both the employee’s and the employer’s portion of the Medicare tax each month.

Employers who decide to defer their part of the Social Security tax have until the end of next year to start depositing the amount they deferred. Half of the deferred payroll tax amount must be deposited with the IRS on December 31, 2021, with the other half due by December 31, 2022.­

All employers may take advantage of this payroll tax deferral, including employers who have received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.

For more information from the IRS about payroll tax deferral, please click here.

This payroll tax deferral is not the same as the payroll tax credits that employers may take for providing paid leave to employees or the employee retention credit. The IRS has detailed information about these credits here.

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PAID LEAVE REQUIRED BY THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (FFCRA)

Effective April 1, 2020, small businesses are required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to give their employees paid leave in certain circumstances relating to the coronavirus. Employees who cannot work due to one of the reasons listed below are entitled to two weeks of paid leave, with an additional 10 weeks of paid leave if they have to care for a son or daughter whose school or daycare has been closed due to the coronavirus.­

How do employees qualify for paid leave?

Employees receive two weeks of paid leave if you have work for them to do but they cannot come to work (or work from home) because:

  1. The employee has been quarantined by a health care provider or by government order.
  2. The employee has COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a diagnosis.
  3. The employee must stay home to care for someone who has been quarantined by a health care provider or by government order.
  4. The employee must stay home to care for a child under 18 whose school or childcare is unavailable due to COVID-19. These employees are also eligible for an additional 10 weeks of paid leave, for a total of 12 weeks’ total paid leave.

Employees taking leave­ for reasons 1 and 2 above must be paid their regular rate of pay, up to $511 per day.

Employees taking paid leave for reasons 3 and 4 above must be paid two-thirds their regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day.

One of my employees has already used their 2 weeks of paid leave but now they can’t work because they have COVID-19. Do I have to give them another 2 weeks of paid leave?

No. The FFCRA requires employers give employees 2 weeks (80 hours) of paid leave only if the employee cannot work because of one of the four reasons above.

Employers are only required to give the 2 weeks paid leave one time. Once an employee has used their 2 weeks of paid leave, they don’t get another two weeks even if they meet one of the reasons above.

If one of your employees has used their 2 weeks of paid leave and then gets sick with COVID-19 or has to quarantine because they were exposed to someone with COVID-19, you can decide whether to allow the employee to take unpaid leave or to use any vacation/sick time the employee has. But you do not have to provide another 2 weeks of paid leave under the FFCRA.

The only time employees may get additional paid leave is for reason #4 above: if an employee has to stay home to care for a minor child whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19, they may be entitled to an additional 10 weeks of paid leave.

Can my employees choose to stay at home and take paid leave?

No. Employees cannot decide on their own to self-quarantine and be entitled to receive paid leave.­ To qualify for paid leave under reason #1 above, the employee must be advised by a doctor or other health care provider to self-quarantine.

Do employees working from home qualify for paid leave?

Employees working from home are not entitled to paid leave because they are still working.

What documentation do I need to get from employees who request paid leave?

Employees must provide appropriate documentation to request paid leave which must include the following:

  1. The employee’s name and the dates leave is requested
  2. A statement of the COVID-19 related reason the employee is requesting leave
  3. A statement that the employee is unable to work or telework for this reason
  4. Documentation supporting the reason for leave
  • For leave related to quarantine, the employee’s statement should include the name of the health care provider advising self-quarantine. If the employee is requesting leave to stay home to take care of someone in quarantine, the employee must give the name of this person and their relation to the employee.
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  • For leave based on a school closure or childcare unavailability, the employee’s statement should include the name and age of the child to be cared for, the name of the school or daycare that has closed, and a representation that no other person will be providing care for the child during the time the employee is receiving paid leave. If the child is older than 14, the employee must show that special circumstances require them to stay home with the child during daylight hours.

One of my employees says they are tired, have a cough, or have other symptoms of COVID-19 and is taking leave to seek a medical diagnosis. What documentation may I require from the employee to document their efforts to obtain a diagnosis?

You may require the employee to identify their symptoms and provide you with a date for a test or doctor’s appointment. You may not, however, require the employee to provide further documentation before allowing them to use paid leave for COVID-19 related symptoms. The minimal documentation required is intentional so that employees with COVID-19 symptoms may easily take leavey and slow the spread of COVID-19.

One of my employees took 4 days of paid leave last month because he had a COVID-19 test and was waiting on the test results. He returned to work when the test was negative, and we paid him for the 4 days he was out. Now we need him to quarantine because his wife has COVID-19 and we do not want him coming to work for 14 days. Can he now use the 6 remaining days of paid leave?

Yes. The employee is entitled to take the remaining hours of paid leave (6 work days in this example). The rest of the leave can either be unpaid or vacation/sick leave at the employer’s discretion.

One of my employees took their 2 weeks (80 hours) of paid leave and then was furloughed. We’ve now rehired her and she’s back at work. Does she get another two weeks of paid leave?

No. Employees are only entitled to 80 total hours of paid sick leave under the FFCRA.

Are there tax credits for this paid leave?

Yes. Employers can offset the cost of leave by keeping a portion of the quarterly federal employment taxes they would otherwise deposit with the IRS.­ If the cost of the leave is more than your federal employment tax bill, you can request an advance refund from the IRS using form 7200.­ To claim a payroll tax credit, you must retain the documentation described above and comply with any IRS procedures for claiming the tax credit.­ For more information about how to claim these payroll tax credits and what documentation is required, click here.­ For more information about form 7200, click here.

Is there an exemption for small businesses?

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees can be exempt from providing paid leave if it would jeopardize the viability of the business. The exemption only applies to requests for paid leave due to school closure or unavailability of childcare due to COVID-19. If an employee requests paid leave for any of the other qualifying reasons (such as the employee is told to self-quarantine by a doctor or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19), the employer must comply with the requirements of the FFCRA and provide the paid leave regardless of the financial hardship it may cause the employer. ­

For more information about the small business exemption, click here.

Is this paid leave a permanent requirement?

No. The paid leave required under the FFCRA expires December 31, 2020.

New Poster Required

The paid leave law requires all employers to provide a notice to their employees explaining the new paid time off that they may be eligible for because of COVID-19.

Click here for the poster in English.

Click here for the poster in Spanish.

Additional Resources

For more information from the US Department of Labor, click here.

Here is a one-page summary of when employees can request paid leave.

The US Department of Labor has published a summary of this law here and a very detailed set of questions and answers here.

Click here for a Fact Sheet on this leave from the US Department of Labor in English.

Click here for a Fact Sheet on this leave from the US Department of Labor in Spanish

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HOW SCHOOL REOPENING AFFECTS PAID LEAVE FOR EMPLOYEES

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires employers to give employees 2 weeks (80 hours) of paid leave if the employee cannot work because they have been quarantined due to COVID-19, are caring for someone who has been quarantined, have COVID-19 symptoms and are getting tested, or their child’s school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19.­

Employees who have children under 18 whose school or daycare is closed due to COVID-19 are also entitled to an additional 10 weeks of paid leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay.

With schools reopening for the fall, the way a school chooses to reopen determines whether your employees qualify for paid leave. The United States Department of Labor has just issued some guidance for employers that discusses when employees are eligible for paid leave.

For example, if a school reopens with online/virtual learning only, the parent would be eligible for paid leave. But if the school gives parents a choice between virtual learning and in-person learning and the parent chooses virtual, the parent is not eligible for paid leave. If a school reopens with only virtual learning, but changes to in-person later on, paid leave might not be available. And if a school alternates between virtual days and in-person days, paid leave is available, but only on remote learning days.

Here is the specific guidance from the United States Department of Labor:

The school my employee’s child attends is operating on an alternate day (or other hybrid-attendance) basis. The school is open each day, but students alternate between days attending school in person and days participating in remote learning. They are permitted to attend school only on their allotted in-person attendance days. Is my employee entitled to take paid leave under the FFCRA?

Yes, your employee is eligible for paid leave under the FFCRA on days when their child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning, as long as the employee needs the leave to actually care for their child during that time and only if no other suitable person is available to do so. For purposes of the FFCRA, the school is effectively “closed” to the employee’s child on days that he or she cannot attend in person. The employee can take paid leave under the FFCRA on each of their child’s remote-learning days.

The school my employee’s child attends is giving parents a choice between having their child attend in person or participate in a remote learning program for the fall. My employee signed up for the remote learning alternative because, for example, they are worried that their child might contract COVID-19 and bring it home to the family. Since the employee’s child will be at home, is the employee entitled to take paid leave under the FFCRA?

No, your employee is not eligible for paid leave under the FFCRA because their child’s school is not “closed” due to COVID–19 related reasons; it is open for the employee’s child to attend. FFCRA leave is not available to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance. If the employee’s child is home not because his or her school is closed, but because their parent has chosen for the child to remain home, the employee is not entitled to FFCRA paid leave.

The school my employee’s child attends is beginning the school year under a remote learning program out of concern for COVID-19, but has announced it will continue to evaluate local circumstances and make a decision about reopening for in-person attendance later in the school year. Is my employee entitled to take paid leave under the FFCRA?

Yes, your employee is eligible for paid leave under the FFCRA while their child’s school remains closed. If the school reopens, the availability of paid leave under the FFCRA will depend on the particulars of the school’s operations. See the two questions above.

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SPECIAL COVID-19 EMPLOYMENT CERTIFICATES FOR MINORS TO WORK

Businesses who hire an employee under the age of 18 must get an employment certificate from the minor’s school (or a parent/legal guardian if the student is in home study). Because the schools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) is now issuing blanket Employment Certificates for employers who want to employ school-aged minors.

These Employment Certificates will expire 60 days from the date of issuance. Upon expiration, employers will be required to obtain Employment Certificates as required under Louisiana law.

Employers desiring to obtain an Employment Certificate must submit a completed and signed “Application to Employ Minors under 18” along with proof of age to laborprograms@lwc.la.gov.

The application is available from the LWC at: laworks.net/Downloads/WFD/MinorApplicationToEmployForm.pdf.­

Employers will receive an email from the LWC with the names of those minors who are approved to work under the Employment Certificate. This email should be kept on file. Blanket Employment Certificates are not transferrable.

Any questions regarding employment certificates should be directed to laborprograms@lwc.la.gov.

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RESOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

CDC Recommendations for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Workplace­

ww.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

CDC Workplace Considerations for Reopening

www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/workplace-decision-tool.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery&mc_cid=b7cb52ae17&mc_eid=0485dc1c18

OSHA Guidelines on Preparing Your Workplace for Covid-19:

www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

OSHA’s 7 Steps to Wearing a Mask at Work:

English: www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA4015.pdf

Spanish: www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA4016.pdf

OSHA Guidance for Restaurants:

English: www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA4017.pdf

Spanish: www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA4018.pdf

OSHA Guidance for the Construction Industry:

English: www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA4000.pdf

Spanish: www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA4001.pdf

Information from the Internal Revenue Service regarding extended filing deadlines, as well as new Employee Retention Credit to assist employers with their payroll taxes

www.irs.gov/coronavirus

Guidance on the CARES Act from the US Treasury

home.treasury.gov/cares

Wage and Hour Issues During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Many businesses are being affected by forced closures or alternative operations to stop the spread of COVID-19, which is especially true in the entertainment and dining industry. The US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers face when responding to pandemics or other public health emergencies, and their effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic­

For Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease

www.revenue.louisiana.gov/Miscellaneous/COVID-19_BusinessGuidance%20(03.04.2020).pdf

For business Information on Covid 19 from the Louisiana Small Business Development Center

www.lsbdc.org/blog/

Louisiana Economic­ Development Launches­ Business Hotline

Louisiana Economic Development has launched a hotline to answer questions from the state's business community during the Coronavirus crisis. LED staff will be answering the phones and will be able­field inquiries from businesses and stakeholders from across the state.

The current hotline number is­ (225) 342-4321. A toll-free hotline number is coming soon.­ For more information, you can visit LED's ­COVID-19 webpage.

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