E AGLE A ND F EIN . COM
Navigating the New Normal
We are facing a new normal after a pandemic that has upended our daily lives.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) enables working Americans to dedicate time to care for their loved ones or to address their medical concerns without fear of losing their employment. This is the only law dedicated to helping men and women balance the dual demands of family and work. Thus, FMLA has drastically changed our workplace culture. Now, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, effective from April 2 through Dec. 31, has amended and expanded FMLA temporarily. The Act lowers the eligibility requirement so any employee who has worked for their employer for at least 30 days before designated leave may qualify to receive paid family and medical leave. Those who have been employed for at least 30 days may also take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care for their child (under the age of 18) if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the childcare provider is unable to watch the child due to a public health emergency. Currently, this is the only qualifying need for Emergency FMLA. Additionally, the Act reduces the unpaid period of Emergency FMLA from 14 to 10 days. During this difficult time, Eagle & Fein is encouraging a healthy work- life balance and showing true dedication to the safety of our clients, colleagues, and families. We have established a plan of action that provides continual services and counsel throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve continued to rotate a skeleton crew through the office while the rest of our staff shelters in place and provides services remotely. Personally, I have a daughter who is immunocompromised, so I elected early to work remotely for her protection. It is not always the most peaceful workday when I have a dual role as fourth grade teacher (which I am not trained for) and have to harass my sixth and 11th graders to complete their online assignments. I spent hours on the phone talking employers through their options during the early stages of Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order 20-08, which directed Indiana citizens to remain in their residences except for essential
trips. It has been interesting explaining to clients and professionals the noises of my three girls and my four-legged best friend in the background, especially during those first couple weeks after the Senate passed the amendments to FMLA. I’m sure that some of you can relate! Fortunately, the firm has been able to provide counsel through virtual meeting platforms, guiding clients on sustaining their business and navigating layoffs. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has also helped. It introduced the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million. This offers vital economic support and helps small businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPP) law was also enacted in mid- March to provide additional economic relief to small businesses. The PPP provides an eligible business up to $10 million in a forgivable loan to assist in meeting payroll costs and other eligible expenses for an 8-week period following the funding of loan. This program, administrated through the SBA, initially had $349 billion allocated to it. The initial funding was exhausted within 14 days. In late April, Congress passed legislation that provided an additional $320 billion for the PPP. $60 billion of that is dedicated to businesses that do not have established banking relationships, such as rural and minority-owned companies. The SBA continues to issue additional guidance on the PPP program. The PPP has had wide spread bipartisan support, and it likely won’t be the last round of legislation. Now, the government is negotiating a “COVID-4” round of economic relief legislation that will likely become law in May. Although there are many economic pains during the crisis, it is also an opportunity to work on our businesses rather than in our businesses. We should be taking a look at newly emerging opportunities and markets, re-evaluating business plans, and setting ourselves up for success when the economic restrictions are lifted. We have to focus on what is really important and go from there.
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