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- Form 7200 "How to" Guide
- Return to Work Toolkit
- COVID Return to Work (From Furlough) Offer Letter
- 2021 FFCRA, CARES Act, PPPFA, and CRRSAA Opt-In Form
- Retro ERTC Acknowledgement Form
- U.S. CDC - Isolation Guidance
- The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services - Updated Timeline and FAQs
- U.S. OSHA – New & Updated FAQs
- The Department of Homeland Security Extends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility (Effective January 1, 2022)
Paycheck Protection Program
Frequently Asked Questions
We understand that you have many questions during this uncertain time regarding your business. Our experts answer the most common and pressing questions in this document. We’ve categorized the Q&A by the following areas: human resources, legislative, benefits, tax credits, 401(k), unemployment and payroll. Check back regularly to receive helpful client resources related to COVID-19.
DISCLAIMER: Please note, this FAQ is for informational purposes only and is general in nature. Although every effort has been taken to ensure accuracy, this information is not intended to be legal advice and is our interpretation and is subject to change based on final guidance and clarity provided by the governing agencies.
Is there a special termination reason that I should select in WorkSight 2.0 and Prism when I terminate someone due to COVID-19?
There is a reason code titled “COVID-19 Interruption/Shutdown” that should be used in these cases.
What is the difference between termination, layoff (reduction in force), and furlough, and which applies in this case?
- A termination involves one or more employees whose employment is terminated as of the effective date. Terminations may be for a variety of reasons including substandard performance, policy violations, needs of the business, etc.
- A layoff (or reduction in force) is a type of termination that is due to the needs of the business and may be related to business performance, economic conditions or strategic restructuring. Laid-off employees are generally eligible for unemployment benefits because the layoff is considered to be a "no-fault" termination on the part of the employee. If you are terminating employees due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on your business, this is probably the type of termination that applies to your case.
- A furlough is a temporary, unpaid leave of absence initiated by the employer. An employee may not be working for a period of time, generally less than a year, or may have intermittent furlough days. For example, one day each week may be designated as a furlough day for a period of time. Many states will allow a furloughed employee to apply for, and receive, unemployment benefits as long as they meet all the criteria. A furloughed employee may still be included in the employer's benefits plan for a period of time, depending on the plan description. Furloughed employees may be easily called back in to work as it becomes available, without the need to rehire.
Is there a way to submit employee status changes for more than one employee at a time?
Yes, there is. Please consult with your client advocate for assistance.
What do I need to tell my employees? Does G&A have recommendations on language for employee updates?
Employers should work closely with their client advocates and G&A's AccessHR (formerly Customer Care) team to assist with proper notifications based on their specific business needs.
What is the WARN Act and is that applicable when I reduce my workforce due to COVID-19?
The federal WARN Act imposes a notice obligation on covered employers (those with 100 or more full-time employees) who implement a “plant closing” or “mass layoff” in certain situations, even when they are forced to do so for economic reasons. In some cases, a large furlough may also trigger WARN notification obligations. It is important to keep in mind that these quoted terms are defined under WARN's regulations, and that they are not intended to cover every single layoff or plant closing:
- Generally speaking, employers must provide at least 60 calendar days of notice prior to any covered plant closing or mass layoff, which can be triggered with a layoff that includes as few as 50 employees under federal law (potentially less under applicable state laws). Note, however, that if employees are laid off for less than six months, then they do not suffer an employment loss and, depending on the particular circumstances, notice may not be required. Unfortunately, in situations like this, it is hard to know how long the layoff will take and notice cannot be provided retroactively, so providing notice at the outset is usually the best practice.
- The WARN Act has specific provisions requiring notice to employees, unions and certain government entities. The act further specifies the information that must be contained in each notice. Even a seemingly minor deviation from these requirements can trigger a violation. Also, keep in mind that some states have “mini-WARN” laws that may apply.
If a company has to shut down at any point because the city or state has mandated a shelter-in-place ordinance, should the company process status changes for its employees? If yes, to what status should the employee status be changed?
It depends on whether the new status will be“furlough” or “terminated/laid off.” If they're terminated or laid off, then their status would be "Terminated" in the system. If on furlough, they would be designated as "Leave of Absence."
What does an essential business/worker mean?
Many states have now issued a Stay-at Home or Shelter-in-Place order that affect most employers. Questions of what constitutes “essential businesses” have arisen. In many states, the term is not defined clearly, if at all. Here is a link to a document from Homeland Security that could be helpful in making such a determination where it may be unclear. Note that the federal document identifies “essential workers” and not essential businesses; however, the reasoning can be useful to determine whether a business is “essential.”
For information on Verification templates for Essential Workers, please reach out to your Client Advocate or email@example.com.
Is EAP available to my employees due to COVID-19 concerns?
Unum's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has provided many resources to help employees deal with COVID-19 concerns, such as quarantine and social-distancing tips, coping with mental health, supporting children at home, etc. Please visit https://www.unum.com/employees/services/life-balance. You can also reach a counselor at 1-800- 854-1446 and reference “G&A Partners” as your employer. These services are offered at no cost.
Is Teladoc doing anything different than the norm?
For currently enrolled participants, Teladoc is enhancing its value proposition to ensure it can assist with navigation of telemedicine, provide resources about coronavirus, etc. Consistent with recommendations from the CDC, Teladoc can issue a 14‐day self‐quarantine "excuse note" for suspected COVID‐19 patients. Log in to learn more at https://www.teladoc.com/coronavirus/
Will health insurance carriers waive fees for Coronavirus testing?
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, employer-sponsored group health plans must cover COVID-19 testing without imposing a deductible, copayment or other cost sharing. Please note that the coverage mandate does not require health plans to cover treatment of COVID-19.
If an employer puts employees on leave, will they still be eligible for group medical plan coverage?
Benefits will remain active if employees are placed on leave or on furlough. Typically, employees on leave may be covered for up to 12 weeks. However, each plan may vary. Employers are billed the full premium and the employee's portion will be collected through payroll upon return. Certain employers may be eligible for a tax credit if the employees are on protected leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLA) or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. Please contact G&A Partners to discuss your specific plan details.
Are there HIPAA concerns for employers with respect to COVID-19?
If an employee presents with symptoms consistent with the coronavirus, it is considered “protected health information.” We recommend that employers limit sharing any information learned about a specific employee’s symptoms.
Will employees be eligible for short-term or long-term disability plans during a period of leave?
Employees will be eligible for these benefits if they personally have a qualified illness or injury. They will have to satisfy the elimination period prior to receiving benefits. Employees who are on leave when illness or injury occurs need to reference their plan documents for coverage details.
What will happen to my “Dependent Care” account if my child's place of care is not open or I cannot use the benefit at this time?
Given the cancellation of many childcare arrangements, employees may reduce or stop dependent care account (DCA) contributions. Participants who have funds in their DCA should submit for reimbursement of these amounts for daycare costs incurred to date since the shutdown.
If employees are furloughed without pay, and group medical coverage is continued, how should the premiums be paid?
First, please reach out to your client advocate to discuss the best solutions for your company in terms of layoffs, furloughs, etc. With regards to an employee that is on furlough, there are a few options:
- An employer can cover the premiums for the furloughed employees in order to keep coverage in place. When the employees return, the employer may then attempt to recover the employee’s share of the cost from the employee.
- An employer may send an invoice or coupon to covered employees during the period of leave, asking the employees to remit premium payments on an “after-tax” basis.
Employers may also elect to include a “prepayment” of premiums on a pre-tax basis, or automatic deductions from pay upon return from leave. Relevant state law needs to be reviewed before making any decisions about automatic deductions from pay.
How long will it take to receive federal tax credits?
The IRS allows an immediate credit via reduction of the 941 tax payment, which will be credited on the client's invoice. Any eligible credit in excess of the 941 liability will be entitled to a refund. The Department of the Treasury explains this process here: https://www.irs.gov/instructions/i7200.
If COVID-19 is considered a "natural disaster" will my State Unemployment Tax Authority (SUTA) rate be affected by layoffs related to COVID-19?
This varies by state. Each state creates its own regulations around COVID-19, and many are still drafting these regulations. While an answer cannot be provided across the board, overwhelmingly states are saying that SUTA rates will not be impacted by COVID-19 related layoffs.
May an employer change their 401(k) match, vesting schedule, or contribution to the employer-sponsored 401(k) plan?
An employer without a Safe Harbor Plan in place is allowed to change its match with an amendment to the plan. Although not required, it is recommended that employers send a notification to employees prior to making the change.
An employer with a Safe Harbor Plan is allowed to change its match with an amendment to the plan and a 30-day notice to participants. Clients should note that you must wait until the end of the year to begin another Safe Harbor Plan for the next Plan Year and include a 30-day notice to participants. Clients should defer to their 401(k) provider on rules for their individual plan.
Can employees take hardship withdrawals from a 401(k) plan if they go on leave without pay?
The CARES Act restricts 401(k) plan relief to qualified participants with a valid COVID-19 related reason for early access to retirement funds. These include:
- Being diagnosed with COVID-19
- Having a spouse or dependent diagnosed with COVID-19
- Experiencing a layoff, furlough, reduction in hours, or inability to work due to COVID-19 or lack of childcare because of COVID-19
An employee should still speak with his or her employer to regarding any potential withdrawal since employers are not required to follow the new, more permissive, withdrawal and loan rules provided by the Act.
May an employee change his or her 401(k) contribution at this point?
Clients should defer to their individual 401(k) provider on rules for changing 401(k) plan contributions. Slavic401k allows for an immediate change to zero. All other changes are effective on the first of the month. Slavic participants can make changes online at Slavic401k.com or contact Slavic at 1-800-356-3009.
If I reduce an employee's hours, will they be eligible for supplemental pay from unemployment or any other source?
Partial unemployment benefit may be available but availability will vary by state. We ask that you direct specific inquiries regarding the state unemployment insurance program to the state agency in which you would file your unemployment claim.
If I reduce my workforce, will those team members be eligible for unemployment?
Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits may be available. However, this is determined by the state agency. Employees can direct questions related to their unemployment eligibility or claim filing to the state agency.
Student Loan Deductions on Paychecks
When will the garnishment process start again?
G&A Partners has received letters from the US Department of Education describing the status of student loan repayment. The stoppage ordered in the CARES Act has been extended at least through Sept. 30, 2021. No withholding for Department of Education loans will occur unless or until new written direction has been received. We will continue to publish the updates the Department of Education sends to us.
Who is eligible for a student loan refund?
All payments received on or after March 13, 2020 at the Department of Education are going to be refunded automatically from the Department of Education.
How will I receive my student loan refund?
If you are due to receive a refund the US Department of Education will mail it to the address they have on file for you. If you are not certain what address they have on file for you, the Department of Education suggests you call them. All refunds should have been delivered by the Department of Education. If you believe a refund is due which has not been received, you may contact the Help Center at US Department of Education at 1-800-433-3243.
When will my garnishment stop?
Wage garnishment will stop when an order to stop withholding is received. Orders may be received through the mail, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at 866-363-5162 and 833-870-4008.
How do I know if my student loan is a federal loan or private loan?
You should contact the loan servicer on the wage garnishment order. If you do not have a copy of the wage garnishment order that can be provided to you.