Small businesses in the U.S. have always been the backbone of our economy. They employ about half the country’s workforce or roughly 60 million people. But these days, small businesses are struggling to survive. In these unprecedented times, where the COVID-19 epidemic has forced day-to-day life to a standstill, most workers sit at home. Each day, they wonder when life will return to normal; when their employers will reopen the doors.
Though it is important to halt the spread of the disease, getting a paycheck is also important for most Americans. That weekly paycheck is how we pay the rent, the car payment and buy food for our families. That leads to the question of how the American family is to survive during this Pandemic. A bigger question, however, may be how most small businesses are going to survive.
In the midst of a declining economy, The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was recently passed. This law will have an especially big impact on employers with less than 500 workers. This emergency legislation just passed by Congress, seeks to provide relief to millions of workers. But it doesn’t address the financial crisis that so many small business owners are facing. In fact, some economists predict that by the time the law takes effect on April 2nd, many small businesses will have to close their doors for good.
How the FFCRA may effect you
The FFCRA’s emergency leave protection amends the FMLA act providing 12 full weeks of emergency leave for employees who are unable to work. It also provides relief for workers who can no longer get child care because a school or place of care has been closed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The way the amounts of financial relief are figured is complicated.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
This acts provides 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave each year so that families will have the time they need for life events like pregnancy and helping a sick or elderly member of the family. The FFCRA steps in and mandates that this “leave” must be paid. All companies with fewer than 500 employees are included. However, there is a small business exemption.
If your company has fewer than 50 employees and providing this leave to your employees would jeopardize the future of your business, then you may be exempt.
The FFCRA provides child care-related paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave. Both will be a valuable resource for families who may be unable to work for several months. But at the same time, it does jeopardize the viability of many small businesses across America.
How much financial relief is available?
In calculating the amount of financial help you may qualify for, the employer will begin by assessing the number of hours the leave-taking employee usually works. The relief amount must be at least two-thirds of the employee’s rate of pay but cannot exceed $200 per day. The total amount available is $10,000.
This applies to part-time and full-time employees. The FFCRA’s paid sick leave provision provides 80 hours of leave for qualifying full-time employees. The amount that part-time employees will get is based on the average number of hours they work in a two-week period.
For answers to all your questions, please visit the FFCRA website.
Tips to Avoid Coronavirus
- Be sure to wash your hands with a soap that foams for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid groups of 10 of more people.
- Cover you face if you must sneeze or cough in public.
- Don’t hoard products or overbuy grocery items.
Remember, if everyone will remain calm and follow the advice of state and local health officials, this Pandemic will be over more quickly and we can all go back to our lives.