Our everyday lives have changed dramatically over the last few weeks as we work together to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know these efforts are necessary, but they also have come at a cost.
Businesses have a number of responsibilities, including taking steps to protect their workers and customers while fulfilling their legal obligations. Employers are in a difficult position because the workplace has the potential to be a significant source of transmission. Learn more about employment regulatory/legal issues, business continuity, and keeping your workplace safe.
Below is information and resources assembled to help businesses navigate through the COVID-19 disruption.
US Centers for Disease Control
World Health Organization
US State Department
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
CDC Fact Sheet
The Phase Three Bill allows the SBA to provide federally – backed loans from February 15, 2020 to June 30, 2020 to eligible businesses to cover operational costs, including payroll, rent, health benefits, and insurance premiums, etc.
Eligible businesses include those with 500 or fewer employees. Leeway for businesses with multiple “small” locations that provide accommodation and food services:
- Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals are eligible.
- Some relief from SBA affiliation rules for certain businesses
- 2 eligibility criteria = good-faith certification of need for the loan + agree to not fire workers
2.5x of average monthly payroll costs up to $10M cap.
Businesses can use loans for almost all operating costs (with limits on individual comp above $100K, comp for non-U.S. workers, and “double dipping” for Families First paid leave wages already receiving credit).
Debt forgiveness up to the principal loan amount for certain costs incurred during the covered period.
- Forgivable amounts = payroll costs, interest payments on loan obligations, rent, and utilities
- Forgiveness amounts reduced for firing employees or cutting wages
See full details on SBA Loans below
Guide to SBA Loans
- Protect lost wages for employees unable to work because of COVID-19 illness
- Preserve jobs through payroll assistance to help businesses retain employees
- Support recovery through solvency assistance
- Support women-owned and minority-owned businesses impacted by COVID-19
- Small businesses, nonprofits, veterans’ organizations, and tribal businesses (500 or fewer employees); as well as
- Businesses of any size that can demonstrate impairment by COVID-19
For a complete summary, download COVID-19 Business and Employee Continuity and Recovery Fund
On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Congress passed its second coronavirus relief measure – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act). Effective immediately, the Act requires group health plans and health insurance issuers to cover COVID-19 testing without imposing any cost sharing (such as deductibles, copayments or coinsurance) or prior authorization or other medical management requirements.
This coverage mandate applies to the following health plans and issuers, regardless of grandfathered status under the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
- All fully insured group health plans
- All self-insured group health plans
- Health insurance issuers offering group or individual coverage
During this public health emergency, health plans and issuers must cover FDA-approved diagnostic testing products for COVID-19, including any items or services provided during a visit to a provider, urgent care center or emergency room that relate to COVID-19 testing. This coverage cannot be subject to any plan deductible, co-payment or coinsurance.
This coverage mandate does NOT require health plans and issuers to cover COVID-19 treatment at no charge. Exact coverage details for COVID-19 treatment, including any cost-sharing amounts, will vary by plan.
The IRS has advised that high deductible health plans (HDHPs) can pay for COVID-19 testing and treatment before plan deductibles have been met without jeopardizing their status. According to the IRS, individuals who are participating in these plans may continue to contribute to their HSAs.
Not at this time.
Exam orders are either be rescheduled to once the ban is lifted (at our normal calendar availability) or being put on hold if the applicant does not answer or respond to calls. The scheduling window will be extended up to 45 days to give more appointment option.
Yes, you can provide care via telehealth. This does not require a coverage change, and it will not impact your premium. NORCAL Risk Management resources and guidance on COVID-19 pandemic communications and telemedicine are available online.
If you are returning to practice because of the COVID-19 emergency and are not getting compensation other than reimbursement of expenses incurred in rendering such services, this will have no impact on your extended reporting period, or tail, coverage or the premium waiver with NORCAL.
HR 6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed on March 18th. This law is two fold.
- Provides 10 days/80 hours of paid sick leave to all employees working for companies with fewer than 500 employees (common FMLA aggregation rules on common ownership apply to determining headcount here).
- Extended paid FMLA to employees under quarantine, personally sick with COVID-19, caring for a child whose school is closed for COVID-19, or otherwise unable to work due to coronavirus, after 30 days of being employed (rather than 1 year/1,250 hours of service).
Employers will receive a 100% tax credit for the salary they must pay to employees that qualify for leave under HR 6201.
A detailed Compliance Alert on this law is below.
Employers will need to contact the carrier of their group plan to inquire if the carrier will waive the 'actively at work' requirement in the plan for a lay off, and if so, for how long. If the carrier waives this requirement for a set period of time, the full premium will still be due. This may be paid in full by the employer, or under the same employer and employee premium share presently in place (if employees can still afford their share). Otherwise, COBRA needs to be offered to anyone who is laid off (employer may pay the full COBRA premium as well).
Carriers may be more lenient there, but at this time, there is no general rule permitting employers to miss premium payments, while keeping the group plan active.
COBRA only applies for as long as there is an underlying group plan. In the case of a business closure, as long as 1 employee remains on payroll (usually an owner who will wind down the business) COBRA will apply. Keep in mind this would be a qualifying event allowing employees who lose coverage to apply for an exchange plan and subsidy in the marketplace.
Losses in a 401(k) or 403(b) are not realized until you actually take the money out of your plan. The best thing to do in volatile times is to re-evaluate your asset allocation and make sure that your investment strategy is still appropriate. Now more than ever is it a good time to reach out to your Advisor to reassess your goals and objectives.
Every plan should have a money market, stable value or guaranteed interest Type of account. Contact your plan provider to see what this option is.
Under a furlough or layoff a employer could continue to offer benefits for a period of maybe 2 months and continue the cost share between employee and Employer. Carriers will honor as long as premiums are paid. Ancillary benefits can be handled the same way. If a employer doesn’t want to contribute to the cost of benefits then COBRA should be offered to those affected employees. Where there is reduction in hours a employer can handle the same option as Layoff and Furloughed employees.
In most cases, no. For certain industries, like healthcare, there may be some available coverage triggers and only if you have proprietary endorsements, it is not an off the shelf coverage. That said, it is questionable as to whether the liability for this is very high because of the difficulty in proving causation.
Potentially, please see below Coronavirus Guide for Businesses (reference page 5). As the pandemic continues, expect the work comp system to be under stress. It will be important to have a strategy with your work comp claims administrator to navigate this for your workforce.
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The material provided on or through this website is for information purposes only and is not intended to provide any financial, legal, or medical advice or opinion in regard to any individual situation. This information should not be relied on to determine insurance coverage or lack thereof. Insurance forms and endorsements, and insurer rules and guidelines, evolve over time and vary based on insurance company, changes in edition dates, regulations, court decisions, and state jurisdiction. The information provided here is based on a review of insurance coverages that may be implicated in regard to COVID-19 from sources we deem to be reliable, and communications we have received from insurance companies and other relevant resources. We make no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of this information as applied to any individual case. Please advise our office if you want to discuss your specific insurance coverages or needs, or to submit a claim for coverage with your insurance provider.