BRIDGEWATER — Town Manager Michael Dutton would like to share the following federal and state information with local businesses and workers regarding small business and unemployment resources that are available during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
On Friday, March 27, President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act, which contains $376 billion in relief for American workers and small businesses, into law. The act also provides benefits for several other groups, including hospitals and public health agencies, state and local governments and education agencies.
One major aspect for small businesses is that the bill provides relief by creating a $350 billion loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program, to prevent layoffs and business closures while employees remain at home. The relief applies to companies with 500 employees or fewer, as well as to most 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) non-profits.
The program would provide eight weeks of cash-flow assistance through federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during the emergency. If the employer maintains payroll, the portion of the loans used to cover payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent and utilities would be forgiven.
The Small Business Debt Relief Program will also provide immediate relief to small businesses. Through the Small Business Administration, non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504 and microloans, will be provided. The SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest and fees, for a period of six months.
This relief will also be available to new borrowers who take out loans within six months of March 27.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants will provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19 within days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). To access the advance, employers must first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance.
The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance, and may be used to keep employees on payroll, to pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.
Additional information regarding federal coronavirus relief options can be found on the federal Small Business Administration website.
Massachusetts Small Business Tax Relief
The Baker-Polito Administration recently announced small business tax relief measures for local businesses which have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The measures include postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax and room occupancy taxes due in March, April and May to be due instead on June 20.
Businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes, or in room occupancy taxes in the year ending Feb. 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for the respective taxes.
Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD)
EOLWD offers resources for businesses regarding employee benefits. These resources include:
- Updated information regarding unemployment resources, found here.
- The WorkShare program can help employers avoid layoffs during a downturn.
- The Rapid Response program works closely with companies to avoid layoffs and keep a skilled workforce engaged in the existing economy or industry.
The EOLWD will continue to post guidance as it becomes available.
Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
DUA hosts daily Town Hall Meetings to guide attendees through the process of achieving a successful unemployment claim and answers any questions attendees may have. Town Halls are offered over the phone and online. To learn more or to register to attend, click here.
DUA is also working to implement three new public benefit programs following guidance regarding the CARES Act that will expand unemployment eligibility, temporarily increase weekly benefits for all claimants and allow additional categories of workers to claim unemployment benefits.
- The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program provides an additional $600 per week to individuals collecting regular Unemployment Compensation (UC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Extended Benefits (EB), Trade Readjustment Act (TRA) or Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DA). The $600 will be added to all eligible weeks of benefits retroactive to March 29, 2020 and continuing until July 31, 2020.
- The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program will provide up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not working as a result of COVID-19, as well as to other workers who do not qualify for regular Unemployment Compensation. PUA benefits will be disbursed through a new system, which is expected to begin accepting claims at the end of April. Eligible claimants will be retroactively compensated.
- The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who have exhausted previous unemployment benefits. DUA is awaiting additional federal guidance on how to implement and administer this program and the extended weeks of PEUC benefits are not yet available.
Learn more about each of the programs here.
Workers can learn more about unemployment benefits during COVID-19 on DUA’s website. DUA will continue to post guidance as it becomes available.
COVID-19 PPE Procurement and Donation Program
Businesses can also participate in the Commonwealth’s PPE Procurement and Donation Program. Individuals and companies can donate or sell personal protective equipment (PPE), via the online portal. Information for requesting PPE is available here.