An early overview of the employment-related provisions of the new COVID relief act agreed to over the weekend by Congressional leaders and which is expected to be formally passed and signed by the President this week, includes the following features of importance to employers (this information is based on summaries of the law that have been provided by Congressional leaders — details on the actual provisions and language are not yet available):

  • Business Assistance and Loans: $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans, expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters, key modifications to PPP to serve very small businesses and non-profits including independent restaurants, and $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions.
  • Direct Payments to Individuals: For individuals earning less than $75,000 and households earning less than $150,000, $600 payments per person and dependent. As an example, an eligible family of four could receive payments up to $2400.
  • Tax Incentives to Provide Paid Sick Leave: It appears that the Emergency Paid Sick Leave mandate will expire on December 31, but the bill provides tax credits for employers who provide paid sick leave benefits in 2021 which follow the framework of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act. Whether these tax credits will be available to employers with more than 500 employees is unclear at this time.
  • Employee Retention Tax Credit: The bill reportedly extends and improves tax credits designed to encourage employers to keep employees on their payrolls.
  • Unemployment Insurance: A scaled down version of the additional unemployment benefits that were part of the CARES Act will return for the first 11 weeks of the new year – unemployment compensation claimants will get $300 per week in additional to regular unemployment benefits. The bill also extends the 26 week maximum benefit period to 50 weeks and reinstates the special unemployment insurance benefit for the self-employed and gig workers through the middle of March.

This information is based on summaries of the law that have been provided by Congressional leaders. We are waiting to receive further details on the actual provisions of the law when it is actually printed and passed and will provide more information as it becomes available.