Last Update: 03/26/2020

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Emergency Hardship Benefits for Workers Impacted by COVID-19


The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act

Unemployment Insurance

  • Expands and improves the unemployment insurance program
    • Unemployment checks will be increased by $600/week for four months.
    • Expands the types of workers who can apply. The law covers workers who work for either a small or large business, self-employed individuals, workers in the gig economy, part-time workers and workers with limited work history.
  • Provides 13 extra weeks of unemployment for workers who remain unemployed after their benefits run out due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Mortgage/Rental Assistance

  • Provides up to 180 days of loan forbearance for borrowers of a federally-backed mortgage loan who experience financial hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Prohibits foreclosures on federally-backed mortgage loans for 60 days.
  • Prohibits eviction proceedings from starting for 120 days on any federally-backed properties.
  • Provides $7 billion for affordable housing and homelessness aid programs
  • Requires any lender who agrees to forbearance or modification as the result of the COVID-19 crisis to submit a borrower’s status as “current” to credit reporting agencies so borrowers don’t face harm to their credit as a result of this relief.

 

Student Loans

  • Eliminates income tax on student loan repayment assistance by an employer.
  • Waives the institutional matching requirement for campus-based aid programs.
  • Makes changes to work study, Pell Grants, and federal student loans to ensure that students are not penalized financially or in terms of eligibility if they are unable to complete their academic year due to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Defers student loan payments, principal, and interest for 6 months for federal student loans borrowers.

 

Direct Financial Assistance

  • Full one-time payment of $1,200 to individuals making up to $75,000 and $2,400 for couples making up to $150,000. The rebate is reduced by $5 for each $100 of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income that exceeds $75,000 and completely phases out at $99,000.
  • $500 rebate per child
  • Credits are limited to individuals with social security numbers and those who filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
  • Individuals are not required to take any action to receive a rebate check.

 

Retirement Funds

  • Waives the 10% early withdrawal penalty for any “coronavirus-related distribution.” from an IRA or 401K account made in 2020 up to $100,000 (up from limit of $50,000).
  • Waives the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules for certain retirement plans and accounts for 2020.

 

 

Federal Emergency Sick and FMLA Leave

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Expanded Family and Medical Leave Right

Summary:

    • The law requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.
    • It DOES NOT apply to large private sector employers. It ONLY applies to employers with 500 employees or less.
    • It DOES apply to governmental entities.
    • Allows employers of “healthcare providers” or “emergency responders” to exempt them from emergency sick leave. Health care providers include optometrists, clinical psychologists, midwives, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners.
    • Law starts on April 2, 2020

 

Emergency Sick Leave

  • Applies to employees who cannot work or telework to get paid sick time off if the employee:
    1. is subject to a coronavirus quarantine or isolation order;
    2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to coronavirus concerns;
    3. is experiencing symptoms of coronavirus and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
    4. is caring for an individual described in (i) or (ii) above;
    5. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or the child care provider of the child is unavailable, due to coronavirus precautions;
    6. is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by HHS in consultation with the Treasury and Labor Departments.
  • Full-time employees are to receive 80 hours of sick leave, and part-time workers are granted leave equivalent to their average hours worked in a two-week period, with the sick leave in either instance being available for immediate use regardless of the employee’s tenure at the employer.
  • Paid sick time will not carry over from year to year.
  • Workers taking leave for themselves will have to be paid at least their normal wage or the applicable federal, state, or local minimum wage, whichever is greater.
  • Workers taking time off to care for family members must be paid at two-thirds of the foregoing rate. Sick leave is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for leave taken in categories (i) through (iii) described in the first bullet point above (i.e., on one’s own behalf), and capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for leave taken in categories (iv) through (vi) (i.e., to take care of another).
  • Employers with existing paid leave policies will be required to provide workers with the sick leave under this emergency program. An employer CANNOT require a worker to use any other available paid leave before using the sick time.
  • Employers will be prohibited from (i) requiring workers to find replacements to cover their hours during time off; or (ii) discharging or discriminating against workers for requesting paid sick leave or filing a complaint against the employer related to such.
  • This law authorizes the Department of Labor to:
    1. Exclude certain health care providers and emergency responders from paid leave benefits;
    2. Exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the paid leave requirements “when the imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern;”
    3. Ensure consistency between the emergency sick leave provisions and emergency family leave provisions described below.
  • The law will take effect on April 2,2020 and will expire on December 31, 2020.

 

Emergency Family Leave

  • Employers covered by the law must provide up to 12 weeks of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for employees who have been on the job for at least 30 days, AND who are unable to work or telework because they have to care for a minor child if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or if the child care provider of that child is unavailable due to a coronavirus emergency.
  • An employer of an employee who is a “health care provider” or an “emergency responder” MAY exclude the employee from the emergency family leave provisions.
  • The first 10 days of leave can be unpaid. A worker could opt to use accrued vacation days or other available paid leave for those days. For subsequent days of leave, workers will receive a benefit from their employers equal to at least two-thirds of their normal pay rate. The paid leave is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
  • Generally, the employee on leave must be restored to his or her prior position; however, this requirement does not apply to employers with fewer than 25 employees if the position held by the employee on leave no longer exists due to economic conditions or other changes in the employer’s operating conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the employer makes reasonable efforts to restore the employee to an equivalent position.
  • This law authorizes the Department of Labor to issue regulations to:
    1. Exclude certain health care providers and emergency responders from paid leave benefits;
    2. Exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the paid leave requirements “when the imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.”
  • Workers under multiemployer collective bargaining agreements whose employers pay into pension plans will have access to paid emergency leave.
  • The law will take effect on April 2,2020 and will expire on December 31, 2020.

 

State Disability Leave – have COVID-19 or Exposed

  • If you are unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (must be certified by a medical professional), you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim.
  • Disability Insurance provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week.
  • The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect DI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

 

CA Paid Family Leave

  • If you are unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim.
  • PFL provides up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child.
  • Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

 

CA Unemployment – School Closures

  • You may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits if your child’s school is closed and you have to miss work to care for them. Eligibility considerations include if you have no other care options and if you are unable to continue working your normal hours remotely.
  • You can File an Unemployment Insurance claim. An EDD representative will decide if you are eligible.

 

CA Unemployment – Reduced Hours or Shut Down

  • If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim.
  • UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own.
  • If you are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with your employer within a few weeks, you are not required to actively seek work each week. However, you must remain able and available and ready to work during your unemployment for each week of benefits you claim and meet all other eligibility criteria.
  • If you’re eligible, benefits can range from $40-$450 per week.
  • The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect UI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

 

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