COVID-19 Updates from ACCNJ

For more information on the information below, access the bulletins in the members-only section at accnj.org.

CohnReznick COVID-19 Financial Relief Webinar 
The on-demand version of CohnReznick's March 31st webinar, Obtaining COVID-19 Financial Relief: An Overview of SBA, CARES, and Alternative Financing Strategies, is now available for on-demand viewing.
Access the webinar here:
http://go.cohnreznick.com/sbawebinar.html?&utm_source=website&utm_medium=insight&utm_campaign=
invitesbawebinar200331&utm_content=webinar
.

AGC of America Free AGC Member Webinar 
AGC/A will be conducting a free* AGC Member webinar Friday, April 3rd at 2 PM EDT, that will include a panel of experts answering legal and labor relations questions that particularly affect union construction contractors during the coronavirus outbreak.
The panelists will discuss how to navigate the new paid sick and family leave mandates, expiring collective bargaining agreements, and layoffs and furloughs while staying compliant with the National Labor Relations Act, the WARN Act, labor contracts (including benefit fund), and more. The webinar will also address what Congress is considering for future relief and how union contractors might be impacted.
[REGISTER NOW]
* Non-Member Webinar Fee: $499
When: Friday, April 3, 2020 | 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM (EDT)
SPEAKERS:
AGC/A Representatives:
Steve Sandherr, Chief Executive Officer
Denise Gold, Associate General Counsel
Jim Young, Senior Director, Congressional Relations for Labor, HR, and Safety
Ogletree Deakins Representatives/Shareholders:
Eric Stuart, Grace H. Ristuccia, Thomas Vasiljevich and Carol Poplawski
There will be a live Q&A session at the end of the presentation, so bring your questions and take advantage of the opportunity to engage directly with the experts.
If you can’t make the live webcast, register to watch it on-demand when it’s most convenient for you. The on-demand version is usually available 24 hours after the live event, but you must register for the webinar in order to see it on-demand.

PPE Donations Needed
Posted: 2/20/2020 2:20 PM
As you know, supplies for hospitals and health care professionals is dwindling as the need for PPE continues to escalate.  The list includes: N95 masks, surgical masks, face shields, coveralls, and protective gloves. If you have any PPE to donate, please visit www.covid19.nj.gov/ppedonations

US Army Corps of Engineers Update on COVID19 Response
Email blast distributed: Mon 3/30/2020 2:14 PM
As you know, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently undertaking efforts to support FEMA, state and local authorities to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Among these efforts is assisting other agencies in assessing potential sites for suitability as alternate care facilities and to rapidly engage contractors to prepare them for medical use.
In New Jersey, US Army Corps of Engineers has already identified sites.
“Pop-Up” Hospital Sites in New Jersey will be located in Secaucus (Former Meadowlands Stadium), Edison (NJ Convention Center) and Atlantic City (Location TBD).
After ACCNJ’s discussions with the Murphy Administration on this topic, the following guidance below is relevant for ACCNJ Members:

  • The site agreement includes that all work must be completed at Federal Davis Bacon rates.
  • The State is OUT of contractor selection process. That process will go through the developer (Secaucus - Hartz Mountain; Edison - Summit Associates; Atlantic City - CRDA).
  • Governor Murphy’s Office has sent strong signals to the developer community that the Administration expects the work to be completed by union craftworkers.
  • Work being done on site is largely fit-outs.

AGC of America conducted a webinar on this topic late last week.
The AGC/A presentation can be found here: AGCA USACE PRESENTATION
Please see an overview below:

  • Army Corps working with each State and USACE is in charge of specific sites
  • Project timelines will have a quick turnaround
  • USACE will handle issues with states regarding work shutdown or if workers are being stopped in route to jobsites
  • Project delivery method will differ project to project (will be specific to each site)
  • Projects will have fixed “ceiling” price
  • Contractors should email capabilities statements to [email protected]
  • and highlight specific capabilities based on these needs below:
  • Build-out or retrofit of existing space (arena, convention centers, dormitories, hotels or other facilities) into alternate care facilities
  • Field Medical Units
  • Temporary Medical Enclosures

Federal Stimulus Package Update
Email blast distributed: Sat 3/28/2020 1:39 PM
As you know, Congress passed and President Trump quickly signed a $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
New Jersey will get at least $5.8 billion from the federal stimulus package.
Of significance within New Jersey’s construction community, NJ Transit will get a total of $1.76 billion. The agency’s coffers have been hit hard by a 90% loss in ridership since mid-March. Without federal intervention, the already beleaguered commuter corporation would’ve had limited options to function.
Equally important, Amtrak will receive more than $1 billion to help fund the Northeast Corridor line and to assist in protecting Amtrak functions and employees.
The State will receive $3.4 billion from a federal fund set up to help states combat the coronavirus.
Nationally, AGC of America reports the new stimulus law will establish loan programs to help many construction businesses pay employees and overhead costs. Some of those provisions include:

  • Advanced-refundable tax credit for employers implementing new federal paid leave mandates in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act;
  • Delaying the payment of employer payroll taxes through January 1, 2021, which will provide relief for businesses’ cash flow during this crisis;
  • Allowing companies to “carry back” their net operating losses for up to 5 years, which would inject much needed cash into struggling businesses;
  • Suspending the limitation on pass-through business losses, which will allow owners of pass-through businesses to fully deduct any losses they incur this year;
  • Suspending the application of the limitation on interest expense deductions, which will avoid penalizing businesses for borrowing during this crisis.

AGC/A will be conducting a webinar Monday, March 30th at 4 PM EDT, that will provide an analysis of the recently passed coronavirus relief legislation and what it means for construction firms.
AGC/A CEO Stephen Sandherr will address how firms can take advantage of the tax credits and lending programs outlined in the law.  In addition, AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson will provide his latest analysis of economic conditions and the impacts of the pandemic on the industry. REGISTER HERE for the Webinar.
ACCNJ will continue to monitor federal and state legislative responses to COVID-19 and relay vital information to members.

No Changes to Construction Operations in NJ
Email blast distributed: Fri 3/27/2020 4:01 PM
ACCNJ has held the line with the Murphy Administration to keep construction going in New Jersey throughout the past 15+ days, demonstrating our industry’s efforts to keep jobsites and craftworkers safe. That advocacy work continues daily.
ACCNJ spoke with the Murphy Administration this morning and again this afternoon, as things in New York changed, to further firm up and bolster the messaging that construction should remain essential and operations should continue.
Governor Murphy just concluded a 2pm press conference where NO changes to construction operations in New Jersey were announced. Throughout the weekend, we will continue to advocate strongly on why the construction industry is essential and continue to emphasize the safety and economic concerns associated with shutting down projects.
Thank you for your continued support and patience during these challenging times.

Election Law Annual Business Entity Disclosure
Email blast distributed: Fri 3/27/2020 1:55 PM
As you know, the NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) requires business entities with public contracts of $50,000 or more in a calendar year with State agencies, the Legislature, counties, municipalities, school boards or fire commissions to disclose all political contributions in excess of $300 to the New Jersey Election Law Commission. Public contractors have until March 30, 2020 to complete the form.
Please see updated message from ELEC below which lays out a process for business entities who need more time to file due to COVID-19 variables:
“Business entities are advised to file as soon as possible by the deadline if they are currently operational or otherwise able to file.
ELEC recognizes some business entities contracting with the State may have difficulty filing FORM BE because of closures and limited access to records.
In light of these closures and access to records‚ ELEC will provide a grace period for any business entities during their period of closure if a business is affected by the current public health emergency. To receive the grace period a communication via email to [email protected] is required.
Please indicate the business entity and the duration of the closure if known. The business entity’s communication may be supplemented with further closures as they are known to the entity.”

NJDCA Local Construction Inspection Guidance
ACCNJ has been strongly advocating for local construction inspection guidance from the NJ Department of Community Affairs (NJ DCA) since the COVID-19 outbreak impacted the State.
We are pleased to report the Murphy Administration and NJ DCA just released a memo, which states “local enforcing agencies cannot restrict code officials from performing their obligations under the Uniform Construction Code.”
Access the memo here: NJ DCA Memo

ACCNJ Asks Members to Take Action
Email blast distributed: Mon 3/23/2020 6:30 PM
In an email blast, ACCNJ asked members to tell President Trump and Congress to treat the construction industry and the work it performs as vital and essential to the critical industries that must remain in operation to respond to this pandemic and crises to come. To ensure this is the case, the federal government must issue guidance classifying construction as a critical infrastructure industry whose workers are essential.
CLICK HERE to submit the pre-written message as is to President Trump and your members of Congress or customize it with personal information on how this issue impacts you and your employer.

Construction Deemed Essential in New Jersey
Email blast distributed: Sat 3/21/2020 2:41 PM
Governor Murphy has implemented additional restrictions in response to COVID-19. The Administration laid out the State plan during a press conference this afternoon.
Please note - ACCNJ has confirmed with the Front Office that construction will not be included in these enhanced restrictions that will aim to shut down all non-essential businesses.
Specifically, non-essential retailers will be closed indefinitely. All other businesses are recommended to go to 100% telecommuting from home, where feasible.
Examples of occupational sectors in NJ where telecommuting is NOT feasible INCLUDES the CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY.
Again – CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS WILL CONTINUE TO OPERATE IN NJ.

California Governor Names Construction Essential
Update posted: Fri 3/20/2020 12:12 PM
California Governor Newsom's Administration has updated their Executive Order. Construction, including housing construction, is listed as an essential need during this crisis.

Pennsylvania Governor Orders All Construction to Stop
Update posted: Fri 3/20/2020 7:38 AM 
On March 19, the Governor of Pennsylvania ordered that all non-life-sustaining businesses close their physical locations. Construction has not been deemed a life-sustaining business under this order. All businesses that do not comply will be cited, fined or have their licenses suspended. Enforcement of this order will begin on March 21, 2020 at 12:01am.

NJ BPU Emergency Order
B-41-2020 distributed: Thu 3/19/2020 3:47 PM
On March 19, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) held a special meeting by telephone to discuss emergency measures to help minimize the effects of COVID-19 by those under the direction of the BPU. The BPU Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the emergency order. Most importantly, Board discussion before the vote resulted in these points being agreed upon by the Commissioners:
• Clarification that contractors can complete work while exercising caution and limiting social interaction.
• Clarification that utilities and their contractors are covered by this emergency action.

Bergen County Executive Order Rescinded
Email blast distributed: Thu 3/19/2020 11:24 AM
Please be advised that Bergen County’s Executive Order has been rescinded.
According to Bergen County Officials, after further discussions with the Murphy administration, EO #2020-1B will not be implemented on Saturday March 21st.
The Murphy Administration further stated the only closures that could be enforced were those issued by the Governor.

Governor Cuomo Issues Executive Order #202.6
Posted: 3/19/2020 9:35 AM
On March 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued E.O. 202.6, to reduce on-site workforce by 50%.  Essential services, which includes construction, are excluded from that mandate. Read the Executive Order here: NY-EO202.6

Governor Murphy's Press Conference
Press conference held 3/17/2020 2:00 PM
On March 17, Governor Murphy held a formal press conference to update NJ residents about the State’s response to COVID-19. After several discussions with the Murphy Administration, ACCNJ was pleased to hear the following message from the Governor.
According to Murphy, “We will override local and county actions to make sure we are consistent in our approach.” He also specifically addressed ensuring the continuity for ongoing construction projects and appealed to county and local governments to coordinate with the state.
Governor Murphy's March 17 Press Conference

Northeast Carpenters Funds Contributing Employers:
Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic and during this volatile time The Northeast Carpenters Fund office may at some point be closed. Therefore, remittance reports and accompanying checks will not be processed until the office is re-opened.  If you are not already, please take this opportunity to utilize the Fund’s iRemit system to submit remittance reports electronically and the corresponding benefit payments online. Attached is an informational flyer on how to use the iRemit system.
The iRemit website can be found at https://employers.ncf.fund/
Prior to logging in for the first time you will need to submit an email request to [email protected] to be set up with a user name and password.
If you have any questions please contact the fund office by email at the following address: [email protected].  During the time period that the Fund Office is closed we will be responding to e-mails remotely and can help you set up the process of your account and aid in the transmission of any reports.

AGC/A Action Alert Opposing Federal Paid Family Leave
Bulletin 39-2020 distributed: Tue 3/17/2020 12:58 PM
AGC/A sent all members an URGENT ALERT asking them to let their Senators know they OPPOSE  H.R. 6201 - the recently House-passed coronavirus emergency bill. AGC/A opposes the employer-fronted paid leave mandates included in the House bill as they could lead to mass layoffs, employer bankruptcies, and supply chain issues that could delay delivery of medical and emergency response facility projects across the construction industry. AGC/A recommends and ACCNJ agrees that the federal government—not construction employers—is best equipped to administer and front compensation for COVID-19-related illness leave.

Bergen County's Executive Order 2020-1B
Bulletin 38-2020 distributed: Tue 3/17/2020 10:56 AM
On March 16,  Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco issued a county-wide executive order which halts activity on construction sites within county lines, which was set to take effect Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 8:00am.
ACCNJ immediately began discussing the detriments of this action with Bergen County Officials as well as pursuing the legality of this County-level action superseding Governor Murphy’s Statewide Executive Order, which exempted construction activities from shutting down.
Bergen County E.O. 2020-1B

OSHA Revises COVID-19 Reporting Requirements
Bulletin 37-2020 distributed:Tue 3/17/2020 9:33 AM
On Tuesday, March 10, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provided guidance requiring the recording and reporting of workplace exposures to COVID-19. The requirement would have been a logistical nightmare with detrimental effects on worker's compensation plans and employer safety ratings. On Thursday, March 12, 2020, AGC of America CEO Stephen Sandherr spoke one-on-one with U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia on this issue noting AGC’s deep concerns with and opposition to such broad guidance. This led to OSHA issuing new guidance that limits when COVID-19 can be a recordable illness to medically confirmed cases of COVID-19 that fall within a narrowed field of incidents that employers could then presume occurred on the jobsite.

Governor Murphy Issues E.O. on COVID-19 Mitigation Efforts
Bulletin 36-2020 distributed: Mon 3/16/2020 3:49 PM
On March 16, 2020, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order #104, which implements “aggressive social distancing measures” to combat the spread of COVID-19. ACCNJ successfully communicated with Murphy Administration staff to ensure construction sites are exempt from the limit on gatherings to 50 persons or fewer. Read E.O. #104 here: https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-104.pdf

COVID-19 Updates from Associated General Contractors of America

Read AGC/A updates here.

NEW! DHS Responds Favorably to AGC's Request to Declare Construction an Essential Industry
AGC has been urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to declare construction an essential industry, and they have just released new guidance that does just that.
New Guidance version 2.0 can be found here (link is external).
Construction now appears 25 times in version 2.0 document compared to 4 in the previous version.  Most of those additions appear to be in the Energy (13 compared to zero) and Communications and Information Technology (4 compared to 2).  New sectors that now reference construction include: “OTHER COMMUNITY- OR GOVERNMENT-BASED OPERATIONS AND ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS” – (2) and “RESIDENTIAL/SHELTER FACILITIES AND SERVICES” – (3).
There’s now a second reference to construction in the “PUBLIC WORKS AND INFRASTRUCTURE SUPPORT SERVICES” and they have reordered the bullets.
Repair now appears 16 times compared to 8 in the previous version.
The titles for certain sectors are also different.  For example, it used to be “PUBLIC WORKS” and now reads “PUBLIC WORKS AND INFRASTRUCTURE SUPPORT SERVICES.”

NEW! AGC's Comprehensive Analysis of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
AGC of America’s government relations team has combed through the details of the coronavirus relief bill set for passage in the House. They provided this initial analysis of what is in the bill and how it will impact the construction industry. We will, of course, share even more details as we continue to comb through the measure.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) today added to its published guidance to provide information to employers about meeting their requirements to offer emergency paid sick leave and paid family medical leave offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.
Specifically, WHD added to its original Questions and Answers (link is external) document. The new Q&A's (see questions 15-37) address critical issues, such as recordkeeping, documentation requirements, when an employee is unable to telework, intermittent leave, worksite closures, furloughs, UI interaction, health coverage requirements, and multiemployer collective bargaining agreement implications.

NEW! AGC of America CEO, Stephen Sandherr, Encourages Construction Employers to Continue Operating Safely during Coronavirus Pandemic
AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr sent a message to every member firm on March 26 urging them to make sure their entire teams are following the guidance set by public health and safety officials to protect their workers from the spread of the coronavirus. Noting that the public was counting on the industry to do its part to block the spread of the coronavirus, he noted that there was no margin for error. Read the complete letter here.

NEW! AGC of America CEO, Stephen Sandherr, Encourages Construction Employers to Continue Operating Safely during Coronavirus Pandemic
AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr sent a message to every member firm on March 26 urging them to make sure their entire teams are following the guidance set by public health and safety officials to protect their workers from the spread of the coronavirus. Noting that the public was counting on the industry to do its part to block the spread of the coronavirus, he noted that there was no margin for error. Read the complete letter here.

NEW! Stay on Top of Delayed Projects
our friends at Construct Connect have created a helpful interactive map that lists some of the project disruptions that have taken place across the country because of the coronavirus pandemic. You can view the map here (link is external).

NEW! US DOL Issues More Guidance on Emergency Paid Leave Requirements
On March 26, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced more guidance to provide information to workers and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the emergency paid leave offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.
The new guidance includes two new posters, one for federal workers (link is external) and one for all other employees (link is external), that will fulfill notice requirements for employers obligated to inform employees about their rights under this new law. It also includes questions and answers (link is external) about posting requirements, and a Field Assistance Bulletin (link is external) describing WHD’s 30-day non-enforcement policy. The new guidance addresses critical issues such as whether employers may post required notice electronically, whether employers must provide notice of this law to recently laid-off individuals, when FFCRA applies to federal workers and when enforcement of the new rules will begin.

NEW! U.S. Senate Passes $2 Trillion Economic Aid Bill
On March 25, the Senate passed the largest economic aid package in our nation’s history. On a 96-0 vote, the $2 trillion bill—the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act­­—passed the Senate and is soon expected to be approved by the House and signed into law­­. This legislation will provide the industry with a much-needed lifeline that will help firms and workers over the coming days and weeks. But the industry will not be able to truly recover until federal officials pass measures designed to stimulate new demand for construction, make contractors whole for losses incurred because of the coronavirus and protect employee retirement and health plans. Which is why AGC is pushing Congress for additional recovery measures beyond what is included in the bill.  We continue to comb through the Senate bill to determine its full impact on the industry. Click here (link is external) to listen (and actually watch too) a brief podcast describing the details of the bill.  You can also read AGC’s letter to Congress about the bill here and AGC media statement (see statement here) in response.

NEW! AGC calls on Homeland Security Agency to Revise Essential Critical Infrastructure Guidance
On March 25, AGC called on the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, to issue a revision to recent COVID-19 related guidance that will explicitly include all construction workers as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.” The absence of the word “construction” from many of the critical infrastructure workforces described in the guidance has become problematic as many state and local governments appear to be overlooking the memorandum and evaluating only the descriptions included under the various listed critical infrastructure workforces. In the few instances where construction is noted or, perhaps, implicitly referenced in the list, significant confusion has arisen. It is imperative that CISA issue a technical correction to this guidance to avoid states and localities from creating a confusing patchwork of regulations that would inhibit the full industry’s essential role in helping address the COVID-19 outbreak and protecting national security.

US DOL Publishes New Federal Paid Leave Guidance Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employers about meeting their requirements to offer emergency paid sick leave and paid family medical leave offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020.
The guidance – provided in a Fact Sheet for Employees (link is external), a Fact Sheet for Employers (link is external) and a Questions and Answers (link is external) document – addresses critical questions, such as how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law.

Defense and Civilian Agencies Respond to AGC's Request for Guidance for Direct Federal Contractors
USACE, GSA, and others provide guidance and planning for potential contract impacts due COVID-19. To read more, please click here.

AGC, Others, Push OSHA to Stop Treating Coronavirus Positives as Reportable Incidents & Calls for Flexibility for Firms Running Short of N95 Masks
AGC, along with our industry partners on the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), is pushing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to re-evaluate its decision to treat cases of employees contracting COVID-19 as recordable incidents. Instead, healthcare providers should be required to report these cases on their logs because they are in direct contact with people with confirmed cases and are at greatest risk.
At the same time, we are pushing OSHA to provide flexibility in enforcement with respect to respirator use due to the growing shortage of N95 respirators. For example, OSHA should consider allowing job rotation to reduce exposures to employees who may not have access to the appropriate masks. For more information, and to view a copy of the AGC/CISC letter, click here.

Construction as an Essential Industry
The federal government recently released a list (link is external) detailing “critical infrastructure industries” whose workers are “essential” and should continue normal work schedules. Although the document lists industries for which construction is absolutely critical, our industry was not explicitly included. Even though the list “is not, nor should it be considered to be, a federal directive or standard in and of itself,” some states have/are considering it for determining which industries can go to work amid state and local COVID-19 responses to shelter in place, among other policies.

AGC of America has continually sought to make clear that our industry is essential to responding to and recovering from this virus in the following ways:
  • Received broad media coverage of its release detailing how counter intuitive it is to shut down construction projects and the industry itself during a pandemic.
  • Partnered with the buildings trades unions in a joint release—showing that management and labor agree—that construction must be included as an essential service able to operate during COVID-19-related shutdowns.
  • Partnered with construction business organizations in a letter to the White House in underscoring the essential need for the construction industry to work during this crisis.
  • Communicated to the Republican and Democratic Governors’ Associations these same messages.

Please join us in telling President Trump and Congress to treat the construction industry and the work it performs as vital and essential to the critical industries that must remain in operation to respond to this pandemic and crises to come. To ensure this is the case, the federal government must issue guidance classifying construction as a critical infrastructure industry whose workers are essential. Click here (link is external) and simply submit the pre-written message as is to President Trump and your members of Congress or customize it with personal information on how this issue impacts you and your employer. You can view the real-time activity on this action alert here (link is external).

Take Action: Tell Congress to Protect Construction Jobs and Markets!
The Senate could vote on a new $2 TRILLON+ COVID-19 relief package shortly. Negotiations are extremely fluid. On March 20, AGC of America shared it’s priorities and policy proposals in a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and received confirmation from key legislators and officials that many of our priorities are part of the fast-paced negotiations. Our priorities include but are not limited to:

  • Protecting our members’ cash flows and access to capital;
  • Infusions of funding into direct federal and federal-aid construction accounts;
  • Enacting multi-year reauthorizations of federal and federal-aid construction programs; and
  • Maintaining the viability of multiemployer pension and health plans on which millions of participants, retirees and contributing employers depend.

Please join us in telling Congress to take immediate action. Click here (link is external) and simply submit the pre-written message as is to your members of Congress or customize it with personal information on how this issue impacts you and your employer. You can view the real-time activity on this action alert here (link is external).

Update on Federal Paid Leave Mandates under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201
On March 20, Treasury, IRS and DOL announced (link is external) their intent to implement these new mandates. Items to note:

  • SMALL BUSINESS EXEMPTIONS: It appears that guidance/regulations will be issued from the Secretary of Labor to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the leave requirements relating to school closings or child care unavailability where the requirements would jeopardize the ability of the business to continue. The exemption will be available on the basis of simple and clear criteria that make it available in circumstances involving jeopardy to the viability of an employer’s business as a going concern.
  • PROMPT PAYMENT FROM IRS TO EMPLOYERS MANDATED TO PROVIDE LEAVE: Under guidance that will be released next week, eligible employers who pay qualifying sick or child care leave will be able to retain an amount of the payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and child care leave that they paid, rather than deposit them with the IRS. The payroll taxes that are available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees. If there are not sufficient payroll taxes to cover the cost of qualified sick and child care leave paid, employers will be able file a request for an accelerated payment from the IRS. The IRS expects to process these requests in two weeks or less. The details of this new, expedited procedure will be announced next week.

 

Summary of Paid Leave Mandates under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201
On March 18, 2020, Congress approved and the president signed into law legislation that includes mandates for employer-fronted federal paid leave—emergency sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave described below. These requirements take effect on April 2, 2020, and sunset on December 31, 2020. However, the legislative environment remains fluid. The Senate could consider altering these paid leave mandates in a COVID-19 economic investment bill, a third COVID-19 relief bill. Such a measure could pass within days and would then need to be considered by the House before it became law. As such, please note that the information in this document is potentially subject to change before it takes effect. Read more.
AGC Joins Chorus of Groups Calling for Tax Measures to Safeguard Businesses during Outbreak
On March 18, AGC joined a host of other business groups in calling on Congress to enact a number of tax-related measures to safeguard companies, regardless of size, during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes policies such as immediately providing accessible, unsecured credit to businesses, suspend the filing of business returns and the payment of all business taxes, and amending the Tax Code to, among other items, restore the ability of businesses to carryback any net operating losses against previous year tax payments. AGC believes these measures will help to minimize the number of businesses closed and workers unemployed during this time and ensure that all businesses have the resources necessary to ride out the pandemic.
AGC Calls for Federal Contractors to be Compensated for COVID-19 Related Losses; Equitable Adjustments due to Facility Restriction
On March 18, AGC, along with other coalition partners, urged Congress to support compensation for federal contractors during the COVID-19 outbreak. Legislative language was included in the letter to authorize contract equitable adjustments in cases where federal facility access limitations or denials bar contractors from performing their duties as required.
OSHA Provides Guidance on Recording Workplace Exposures to COVID-19
OSHA recordkeeping requirements at 29 CFR Part 1904 (link is external) mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.
COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following are met:
  1. The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see CDC information (link is external) on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19);
  2. The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5 (link is external); and
  3. The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (link is external) (e.g. medical treatment beyond first-aid, days away from work).

For more information, click here.

AGC Opposes House-Passed Paid Leave Proposal
In a March 16, 2020 letter to the Senate, AGC stressed the need to address the 14 weeks of employer-fronted paid leave mandated under the House-passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and to offer workable solutions.
AGC cannot support a Senate product that includes this House-passed proposal in H.R. 6201 and reserves the right to record the vote on legislation including such a proposal as an AGC “Key Vote” for the education of its membership.
To read the complete letter, click here. Tell Your U.S. Senators to Oppose Employer-Fronted Paid Leave Mandate here (link is external).