May 28th Information & Resources Update
Nationwide Unemployment Scam Targeting Massachusetts Claimants

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has warned that criminal enterprises in possession of stolen personal information from earlier national data breaches have been attempting to file large amounts of illegitimate unemployment claims through the DUA system. This is part of a national unemployment fraud scheme.

DUA has begun implementing additional identity verification measures that will temporarily delay the payment timeframe for many unemployment claims in Massachusetts. As a result of these measures, certain unemployment claimants may be asked to provide additional identity information in order to verify the validity of their claim.

Individuals who believe they may have had a false unemployment claim filed using their identity are urged to utilize the Department of Unemployment Assistance fraud contact form online at mass.gov/unemployment-fraud or to call the DUA customer service department at 877-626-6800.
"Streets for Recovery" Grant Funding Available to Municipalities for Public Space Alterations in Response to COVID-19

The Solomon Foundation, in partnership with the Barr Foundation, has made grant funding to municipalities and non-profits available to help re-configure public infrastructure, including streets, to allow for more safe physical distancing in response to COVID-19.

Examples of potential improvements cited by the Foundation include:
  • Narrowing lanes to both slow traffic and provide space so people can safely walk in the street where sidewalks are too crowded
  • Offset parking from the curb to create a widened sidewalk to provide safe space for walking
  • Expand space to walk or bike by eliminating curbside parking temporarily
  • Provide curbside drop-off/pick-up zones on in business districts
  • Designate unused street space and parking lots for outdoor restaurant and store use
  • Make walking safer by adjusting signal timing and automating pedestrian push buttons.
  • Allow neighbors to apply for a quick permit to set up a DIY neighborhood slow street

Municipalities and/or non-profits in partnership with municipalities are eligible to apply; more information is available online at this link, and interested parties are encouraged to send a short proposal to the initiative's Program Manager. Priority will be given to projects that can be delivered quickly and that will benefit communities that have been most affected by COVID-19.

Awardees will receive technical assistance to help plan for and pilot shared streets, along with $5,000-$10,000 in grant funding to support the following types of activities:
  • Professional coaching on how to set up a response program
  • Contract with a transportation or wayfinding consultant for planning and design services
  • Hire a locally based project manager
  • Purchase supplies for a pilot project
  • Hire a volunteer manager to help build and deploy materials for your project
  • Hire people to document the project and evaluate its impact

Workforce Training Grant Funding Available

Commonwealth Corporation has Workforce Training Grant funding available to businesses of various sizes. COVID-19 has substantially changed procedures and requirements in many business operations, whether they are adapting to being an essential business during the pandemic, newly re-opening with significant restrictions, or planning for a future re-opening. Proper training will be essential to safely altering and resuming operations.

Three Workforce Training Fund programs are available through Commonwealth Corporation:

General Program:

Express Program:

Small Business Direct Access Program:
New Interim Final Rule Clarifies Loan Forgiveness for Paycheck Protection Program

On May 22, 2020, the Treasury Department and SBA issued a new Interim Final Rule applicable to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) related to the forgiveness calculation.


When must payroll costs be incurred and/or paid to be eligible for forgiveness?

In general, payroll costs paid or incurred during the eight consecutive week (56 days) covered period are eligible for forgiveness. Borrowers may seek forgiveness for payroll
costs for the eight weeks beginning on either:
  • the date of disbursement of the borrower’s PPP loan proceeds from the Lender (i.e., the start of the covered period); or
  • the first day of the first payroll cycle in the covered period (the “alternative payroll covered period”).

Payroll costs are considered paid on the day that paychecks are distributed or the borrower originates an ACH credit transaction. Payroll costs incurred during the borrower’s last pay period of the covered period or the alternative payroll covered period are eligible for forgiveness if paid on or before the next regular payroll date; otherwise, payroll costs must be paid during the covered period (or alternative payroll covered period) to be eligible for forgiveness. Payroll costs are generally incurred on the day the employee’s pay is earned (i.e., on the day the employee worked). For employees who are not performing work but are still on the borrower’s payroll, payroll costs are incurred based on the schedule established by the borrower (typically, each day that the employee would have performed work).

The Administrator of the Small Business Administration (Administrator), in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury (Secretary), recognizes that the eight-week covered period will not always align with a borrower’s payroll cycle. For administrative convenience of the borrower, a borrower with a bi-weekly (or more frequent) payroll cycle may elect to use an alternative payroll covered period that begins on the first day of the first payroll cycle in the covered period and continues for the following eight weeks. 

The Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary, determined that this alternative computational method for payroll costs is justified by considerations of administrative feasibility for borrowers, as it will reduce burdens on borrowers and their payroll agents while achieving the paycheck protection purposes manifest throughout the CARES Act, including section 1102. Because this alternative computational method is limited to payroll cycles that are bi-weekly or more frequent, this computational method will yield a calculation that the Administrator does not expect to materially differ from the actual covered period, while avoiding unnecessary administrative burdens and enhancing auditability.

Are there caps on the amount of loan forgiveness available for owner-employees and self-employed individuals’ own payroll compensation? 

Yes, the amount of loan forgiveness requested for owner-employees and self employed individuals’ payroll compensation can be no more than the lesser of 8/52 of 2019 compensation (i.e., approximately 15.38 percent of 2019 compensation) or $15,385 per individual in total across all businesses.

In particular, owner-employees are capped by the amount of their 2019 employee cash compensation and employer retirement and health care contributions made on their behalf. Schedule C filers are capped by the amount of their owner compensation replacement, calculated based on 2019 net profit. General partners are capped by the amount of their 2019 net earnings from self-employment (reduced by claimed section 179 expense deduction, unreimbursed partnership expenses, and depletion from oil and gas properties) multiplied by 0.9235. No additional forgiveness is provided for retirement or health insurance contributions for self-employed individuals, including Schedule C filers and general partners, as such expenses are paid out of their net self employment income.

When must nonpayroll costs be incurred and/or paid to be eligible for forgiveness?

A nonpayroll cost is eligible for forgiveness if it was:
  • paid during the covered period; or
  • incurred during the covered period and paid on or before the next regular billing date, even if the billing date is after the covered period.

Example: A borrower’s covered period begins on June 1 and ends on July 26. The borrower pays its May and June electricity bill during the covered period and pays its July electricity bill on August 10, which is the next regular billing date. The borrower may seek loan forgiveness for its May and June electricity bills, because they were paid during the covered period. In addition, the borrower may seek loan forgiveness for the portion of its July electricity bill through July 26 (the end of the covered period), because it was incurred during the covered period and paid on the next regular billing date.

The Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary, has determined that this interpretation provides an appropriate degree of borrower flexibility while remaining consistent with the text of section 1106(b). The Administrator believes that this simplified approach to calculation of forgivable nonpayroll costs is also supported by considerations of administrative convenience for borrowers, and the Administrator notes that the 25 percent cap on nonpayroll costs will avoid excessive inclusion of nonpayroll costs.

Join the 495/MetroWest Partnership &
the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for our
MetroWest Weekly Employer Town Hall Series

Area employers are invited to join the 495/MetroWest Partnership and the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for our continuing weekly discussions surrounding critical issues business are facing right now. We will answer questions about the various resources that are available to companies and their workers during these difficult times.

These discussions are open to any interested party, and are held each Wednesday afternoon starting May 6th, at 1:00 PM via Zoom. Click here to sign up!

Hosts:
  • Jason Palitsch, Executive Director, the 495/Metro West Partnership
  • Greg Bunn, Executive Director, MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you. Partnership operations are continuing throughout the duration of the current public health crisis, with our staff working remotely. You may reach me directly via email at jason@495partnership.org .
Sincerely,

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership