Notice about Unemployment and Paid Sick Leave
In the last few days President Trump signed the Families First COVID-19 Response Act. This Act establishes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and expands the existing federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Both are effective April 2nd, 2020. Below are some highlights to note, along with other pertinent information.
1. Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act
Employers must provide 2 weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick pay to full time employees who are either:
A. Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and/or are subject to self-quarantine by their health care provider or by federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order.
B. Or, are caring for an individual who is subject to self-quarantine by their health care provider or by federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order, or are caring for a child whose school or place of care has been closed due to COVID-19 precautions.
For those in the category “a”, the maximum daily pay is $511, and for those in category “b”, the maximum is $200.
2. Expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act
This Act extends the payments for Family Leave to those in category “b”. Employees have up to 12 weeks of protected leave, consisting of 2 weeks unpaid and 10 weeks paid, using the same maximum daily benefits stated above.
3. Tax Credit for Employers
There is a tax credit available for employers who pay either sick pay or extended family leave pay or both. This credit will be a reduction of the employer’s portion of payroll taxes. The credit is generally capped at 2/3 of what was paid and further subject to the same daily caps described above.
Under New Jersey law, unemployment benefits are available to a person who is out of work because their employer voluntarily closed or was ordered to close, or if the person has less hours available due to slowing down of business or lack of demand. The maximum weekly benefit rate is $713 or 60% of pay whichever is less. Employers can elect to close down their business temporarily or furlough their employees to enable them to be eligible for unemployment. It is not clear at this time whether the state will waive experience ratio adjustments for this unemployment, although some other states have stated as much.
5. Filing for Unemployment
As the state is currently experiencing an unprecedented amount of new claims, the department of labor requests that the claims be remitted in a stagger fashion based on the last four digits of your social security number. More information on this can be learned on the New Jersey website at myunemployment.nj.gov As there may be certain individuals who are unable to access this website or require assistance with this application, our office is available to take care of the application process for $125.
6. Disaster Loans for Businesses
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced that small businesses in New Jersey can now apply for low interest federal disaster loans because of the COVID-19 by using the online loan application tool at SBA.Gov. Loans of up to $2,000,000 can be obtained depending on many factors and circumstances. This is not a grant, but it is a loan with favorable repayment terms and is more likely to be approved than any other form of traditional financing in the current environment.