By Lee Allphin, Employer Advantage Founder and Chairman of the Board
Never in our nation’s history have we seen the need for a stimulus plan the magnitude of the ‘‘Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’’ (CARES Act), which is aimed at mitigating the devastating economic impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease is wreaking on individuals, families, and companies of all sizes.
This $2 trillion rescue package is the largest spending bill the US has ever created, and the second coronavirus outbreak relief package to directly impact employers. The CARES Act comes on the heels of the recently passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which also tasks employers with unprecedented compliance responsibilities.
CRITICAL STEPS EMPLOYERS NEED TO TAKE, NOW:
Unless employers fully understand and comply with the increased compliance burdens placed on businesses in this time of crisis, many of the benefits from the new act will not be achieved.
In addition to working with human resources management services, business leaders must understand the impacts, calculations, documentation, and implementation guidelines necessary to successfully navigate the newly outlined unemployment benefits, employer tax credits, eligibility requirements and terms of the provisions for small business loans and loans for companies in distress.
Employers should also consider taking these steps immediately:
- Direct Deposit of Paychecks: Many employees in the United States do not have bank accounts and can’t receive a direct deposit of their paycheck. Years ago, pay cards were introduced to give employees a way to receive direct deposited funds without having an account. It is now the time to encourage employees to sign up for direct deposit or pay cards in the event you are unable to deliver live paychecks in person, or if the mail is disrupted.
- Working from Home Safety and Wellness: Another important step is to make sure your employees are safe. Managers should be checking on the safety and wellbeing of at-home workers since they may not see each other often. Not every home is a haven of safety, and some employees may have additional stressors including finances, domestic violence, mental health, or addictions. HR should be a resource to employees in these times.
- New Pay Codes for EFMLEA and EPSLA Paid Leaves: It is critical for payroll to track employee time for paid time off under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and the Emergency Paid Leave Act (EPLA). If this is not done it will be difficult to receive the tax credits which will be available. Don’t delay this important step.
- Employee’s Form I-9 Work Authorization Documentation: If employees are working remotely due to COVID-19, employers will not be required to review new hires’ identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. Employers must still inspect the Section 2 documents over video conference, fax, or e-mail and obtain and retain copies of the documents within three business days. Employers are instructed to enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the additional information field in Section 2. Employers that avail themselves of this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee. This exception to the usual I-9 process will remain in effect until May 19th, or within three business days after the termination of the national emergency, whichever comes first.
- Working at Home,Tracking Hours Worked: Employees are entitled to overtime pay while working at home the same as when in office. This is not always easy because employees may be doing other things, such as caring for children, during working hours. Be sure to consult HR experts and use the proper methods and policies for accurately tracking pay.
Employer Advantage is committed to keeping our clients and their employees informed. We are here to guide you through the ever-changing landscape and legislation being created to combat this global pandemic.
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A New Path to HR Bliss – Trusted for more than 30 years, Employer Advantage frees you from the administrative and compliance burdens of having employees so you can focus on your business success. Versatile enough for companies of all sizes, our unique service combines comprehensive management of your employee administration and compliance with the latest software solutions, tailored to meet your individual needs and company culture. Our full-service management of HR, payroll, health and benefits, workplace safety, and more, enhances your profitability while reducing the costs and risks associated with employment law compliance. We provide your employees with top-notch assistance and benefits that help you increase productivity, save time and money, and attract and retain a talented workforce. And for small and mid-sized businesses, we bring you economy of scale with access to Fortune-500-level benefits, specialty assistance, and savings that would not be possible to attain on your own. Headquartered in the Midwest and serving more than 400 companies and 10,000 worksite employees throughout the country, Employer Advantage is an IRS-Certified Professional Employer Organization (PEO) (C-PEO). Experienced, certified, and trusted. www.EmployerAdvantage.com