The coronavirus pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on our nation and on all businesses. With the mandatory closing of schools and many businesses being forced to close, congress has passed new legislation and the President has signed into law the Emergency Families First Coronavirus Response Act (EFFCRA). The law is raising a multitude of questions for small business and professional practice owners. Dental professionals are being excluded as healthcare providers from the requirements of the federal law. However, it will be important for dental practitioners to follow the requirements of the newly released unemployment regulations issued by the state of Georgia.
EFFCRA requires businesses with less than 500 employees to provide employees regular pay for up to two weeks for coronavirus related issues. In addition, the employer could be required to provide additional pay for up to 12 weeks at 70% of the employee’s regular pay if they are providing care for a family member affected by the virus. There is language in the law that excludes all healthcare providers (dental offices are included) from the provisions of the law. There will be additional assistance coming from the federal government from the SBA to assist with providing employee pay and potential direct tax credits to the owner’s tax returns for amounts paid under the act. The law includes a provision for employers with under 50 employees to apply for a hardship ruling for relief from the requirements of the law. Such hardship would have to be approved by the Department of Labor and would be based on the law jeopardizing the business as a going concern. Many of our clients have asked about paying employees PTO time first and the proposed act does not allow the business to force employees to use their PTO for this purpose.
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) also just released a requirement for all employers to file for partial claims online on behalf of their employees for any week during which a full or part-time employee works less than fulltime due to a partial or total company shut down caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Any employer found in violation of this rule will be required to reimburse the GDOL for the full amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employee. Currently, the GDOL continues to be overwhelmed with employers attempting to login into the website. Upon successfully logging in you will report based on your normal scheduled pay periods.
As our nation deals with this pandemic, we will likely continue to see a very fluid and rapidly changing situation. These two actions represent the first actions by the federal and state governments to provide clarity and some level of relief to employees. I expect that there will be additional laws passed to further assist and clarify assistance for employers and employees beyond these steps. It is also likely there will be other economic stimulus bills to help the nation through this crisis. We will continue to provide updates as things change.
Please feel free to contact me at 678-999-3800 or firstname.lastname@example.org if we can be of assistance.
R. Lee Pennington, CPA, LLC
896 Legacy Park Dr.
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046