COVID-19 Resources
for Employers

Updated 3/27/2020

New Federal Legislation

CARES Act S.3548

The CARES Act is being signed today, March 27, 2020. PayNorthwest is reviewing the legislation and making determinations on how to help our clients fully utilize provisions of the Act that involved payroll and payroll taxes. More to come.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) HR 6201

On March 18, 2020 President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The Act and its provisions go into effect on April 1, 2020. For a good synopsis of the key points of the FFCRA from the IRS, click here

The Basics:

The FFCRA mandates that employers of less than 500 employees must provide paid leave for employees affected by and unable to perform their work due the coronavirus. This paid leave is of two types:

  1. Paid sick leave. 80 hours of paid sick time available at the employee’s full regular rate of pay subject to dollar caps. This is reduced to two-thirds pay if the leave is due to caring for others (sick or quarantined family member or child whose school or childcare is unavailable)
  2. Paid Emergency FMLA. Ten additional weeks of paid FMLA for those who must stay home to care for a child whose school or childcare is closed. The ten weeks are to be paid at two-thirds the employee’s rate of pay, subject to dollar caps. Provisions are made to calculate part-time workers’ regular rate of pay.

Payroll Tax credits are available to employers to offset all costs of providing these paid leaves. Credits also include the portion of health insurance costs that is attributable to the paid leave provided. Further guidance from the IRS is due on the specifics of this sometime the week of March 23.

Notification Requirements

HR 6201 requires employers to post a notice in a conspicuous location in the workplace (or each work location, if employees report to different buildings). Employees who are working from home must receive the notice as well; employers can distribute it via email, snail mail, or by posting to an internal or external website intended to provide information to employees.

The required notice will be made available by the Department of Labor the week of March 23, 2020.

FFCRA Notification Requirements FAQ

Department of Homeland Security Announces Flexibility in Form I-9 Requirements

On March 20, 2020, DHS announced new flexibility in Form I-9’s physical proximity requirements. Employers who are implementing physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 may defer the review of an employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. However, Section 2 documents must still be inspected remotely, and employers must obtain a copy of these documents.

Employers must write “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Additional Information field of Form I-9 once normal operations resume.

Read the full details of this change from DHS

How PayNorthwest Can Help

Paychecks mailed directly to employee residence

Understanding that many employees are now either working from home or temporarily unable to come to their place of work, PayNorthwest can switch paper paychecks to be delivered to each employee’s home address, instead of sending paychecks to the work location. To understand if this is the right option for your business, contact your CSR to learn more.

FFCRA leave tracking and credit obtainment

In order to track the new paid leaves mandated by the FFCRA, we are configuring new system codes and reports for use by our clients to comply with the Act and to make use of the credits the Act provides to offset the cost of the paid leave.

You will soon have access to new earning codes explicitly created for the FFCRA. We are waiting for guidance from the IRS in order to set these codes up properly. The new earning codes will automatically capture earnings that are eligible for credit against federal payroll tax liabilities.

We recommend that you wait for these new earning codes until the FFCRA earning types have been communicated and deployed. Earning codes that are not created from the FFCRA earning types will not calculate correctly and will not be reported properly.

These codes will be deployed and available for use by end of day 3/31/2020.

We are tracking this continuously with a dedicated PayNorthwest resource assigned to the COVID-19 crisis response.

Furlough

If your best option in response to this crisis is to furlough some of your workforce, PayNorthwest can help guide you in how to best manage your system data to help facilitate unemployment claims, minimize your system cost with us, and set you up for the easiest possible return of your people when furlough is over.

 

Resources for Washington Employers

Washington State’s Employment Security Department (ESD) rolled out emergency rules that ease the burden of temporary layoffs for workers and employers during the COVID-19 emergency.

Key changes during the COVID-19 emergency are:

  • Employees are eligible for unemployment benefits and employers are eligible for relief of benefit charges if operations need to be temporarily ceased as a result of COVID-19
  • Workers with a minimum of 680 hours are eligible for standby
  • Work search requirements can be waived for employees who are asked to self-isolate by a medical professional or a public health official

Washington State Employment Security Department resources for businesses affected by COVID-19

Programs to Help Businesses Keep Workers During COVID-19 Crisis

SharedWork

SharedWork allows employers to reduce the hours of permanent and hourly employees by up to 50% while allowing the employees to collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages.

If you are a Washington State employer and considering reducing your workforce’s hours, this program may be a valuable option for you and your employees. While your company does need to provide a designated representative to work directly with SharedWork, PayNorthwest is here to assist you in providing reports and information from the PayNorthwest system.

Read more about SharedWork from Washington’s Employment Security Department

Standby

If you need to temporarily cease or scale back operations you may place workers on standby for up to eight weeks during a single claim year. While on standby, your employees can collect unemployment benefits without having to look for other work. They must also accept any work you offer that they can do without breaking isolation or quarantine. Relief of benefit charges cannot be granted in this situation.

Learn more about temporary layoffs, standby and furloughs 

More Resources

 – COVID-19 Crisis Response Center