COVID-19 Update

In an effort to keep you and your business up-to-date on the events surrounding COVID-19, the Alliance will be sending out information that may be critical to your business operation, during this time. As you know, the federal government continues to push out new information, regulations, and support for business and industry, daily, and we want to be sure that our Baldwin County businesses are as informed as possible.

While we continue to monitor the situation closely, at all levels, know that our number one priority is minimizing the impact of this event on the Baldwin County economy, providing our local businesses with the information they need to remain strong. This information is being sent out to all of the Alliance's investors and local partners, but we encourage you to spread this information to those businesses that may not currently be engaged with the Alliance. Feel free to send us any contacts that you would like us to add to our email list, in the coming days, as we anticipate new information to continue to come our way.

As always, thank you for your support of the Alliance and for playing the critical role of leader and employer within our community. If there is any way that we can help, please let us know.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs)

EIDLs provide eligible small businesses (and certain nonprofit organizations & agricultural cooperatives) up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred. Loan proceeds can only be used for working capital necessary to enable the business or organization to alleviate the specific economic injury and to resume normal operations. Interest rates for EIDLs are statutorily set at 4% per annum or less and can have maturities up to 30 years. Unlike other SBA loan programs, SBA directly funds these loans.

EIDLs are available only to businesses and private and nonprofit organizations that are located in a declared disaster area, have suffered substantial economic injury, are unable to obtain credit elsewhere, and are defined as small by  SBA size regulations . Baldwin County businesses are currently eligible for these loans. To apply, set up an account, fill out the application, along with a signed and dated IRS Form 4506-T, which gives the SBA permission to access your tax data from the IRS. Business owners can reach out to the SBA for more information about this program by calling 1-800-659-2955 or emailing . SBA is anticipating application approval to take approximately 30-60 days.

Alabama SBDC will be hosting multiple webinars to explain the loan process to businesses, in the coming days. To register for Friday morning's webinar CLICK HERE .

To learn more about the program and apply for a loan visit the SBA website.
Coronavirus Impact Planning Report

The infographic below provides a brief demographic overview of Baldwin County, highlighting our at-risk populations for COVID-19. Click the image below to view the two-page report. If you would like a report that is more specific to your Baldwin County region, municipality, or location, please reply to this email.
Paid Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave Regulations

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

These provisions of the FFCRA require employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide full-time employees (regardless of how long the employee had been employed prior to the leave) with  80 hours of paid sick leave . Part-time employees receive only the number of hours they have worked over an average two-week period.

These leave benefits are available only to employees who are absent from work for reasons related to Coronavirus. Specifically, to qualify for the paid-leave benefits under this Act, an employee’s leave must be for one of the following purposes:
  1. The employee is subject to a government quarantine/isolation order related to Coronavirus;
  2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to quarantine for Coronavirus concerns;
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described above or has been advised by a health care provider as described above;
  5. The employee is caring for a son or daughter if the child’s school or place of care has been closed or the child’s child care provider is unavailable due to Coronavirus precautions; or
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Employees who need leave to care for themselves are entitled to their full regular rate of pay for the number of hours they would work per day. However, employers are now allowed to cap this amount of paid benefits at $511 per day ($5,110 aggregate) per employee. Employees who need leave to care for others—including children home from school or without childcare—are entitled to only 2/3 of their regular rate of pay (or the applicable minimum wage, if greater). The amount of paid sick leave for this leave is capped at $200 per day ($2,000 aggregate) per employee.

Significantly, employers must provide these benefits  in addition   to  any existing paid leave benefits. In other words, employees are entitled to exhaust all available emergency paid leave provided by this Act before they are required to use any otherwise available leave benefits their employer may offer.
The Act does not address employers’ right to request certification or documentation from employees in need of leave. However, the Department of Labor regulations may address this issue at a later time.

Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act

The FFCRA also contains an expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) to provide for leave needed for childcare purposes. This FMLA expansion covers all employers with fewer than 500 employees, not just employers of 50 or more employees. However, the law does grant discretion to the Secretary of Labor to exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees from the Act’s provisions. It also lowers the eligibility threshold to employees who have worked for only 30 days (or more).

Specifically, this Emergency FMLA leave is available to eligible employees to care for the employee’s child (under 18 years old) if the child’s school or place of care is closed, or the child’s child care provider is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.

Employers may provide the first 10 days of this leave without pay. While employees can elect to substitute or use otherwise accrued paid leave during these initial 10 days, employers may not require employees to do so, no matter how their policies may read. Employees could elect to use their paid sick leave provided by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act above for this time to be paid. After this initial 10-day period, employers must provide additional paid leave to their employees for the remaining 10 weeks, but only at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours the employee would normally be scheduled to work. The amount of pay during these 10 weeks is capped at $200 per day ($10,000 aggregate) per employee.

Employees are required to give their employers as much notice as practicable when this type of leave is foreseeable. Like the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, the FMLA Expansion does not include any reference to an employer’s right to request certification or documentation of an employee’s need for leave, though Department of Labor regulations may subsequently address this issue.

Employer Tax Credits

The FFCRA also provides for a refundable tax credit to employers for 100% of the qualified sick leave wages paid to their employees (described above). These tax credits would be provided on a quarterly basis and are allowed against the employer’s Social Security taxes.