Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) - the combined state chamber, manufacturers' association and safety council - is continuing to monitor the evolving situation relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help the entire business community stay up to date with important news, we have opened up these communications to non-members. Please feel free to forward this email to others.
WMC COVID-19 Update: U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher & Industry Reports
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), its trade association partners and local chambers had a business coalition update call with U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher. The call detailed the federal government's legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and updated listeners on how the business community is being impacted. The call also featured updates from numerous industry-specific trade associations.
New Guidance from The Department of Labor:
Today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced more guidance to provide information to workers and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) when it takes effect on April 1, 2020. See the
Within the guidance, DOL has clarified that workers are not eligible for the new paid leave or FMLA benefits if they are furloughed, or if an employer closes, whether it’s from lack of business or pursuant to a government directive like the Safer at Home order in Wisconsin
Guidance from Wisconsin Department of Revenue on Tax Payments & Audits:
On Friday afternoon (3/27/2020) the Wisconsin Department of Revenue released a new proposed guidance document with several new measures meant to alleviate compliance burdens on Wisconsin taxpayers. Some notable measures include:
Tax payment installment agreements:
The Department wants to remind taxpayers that if they cannot pay their entire tax bill at once, they can file an installment agreement. Taxpayers that already have an installment agreement, but are unable to meet the obligations under that agreement, may request a temporary suspension in payments.
The Department has stated they “generally” will not start new field audits on small businesses during the public health emergency.
Automated collection actions:
The Department has stated new levies of assets will not be issued except when revenue agents believe “the state is at risk and immediate collection action is warranted.”
You can review the whole proposed guidance document
The Department also announced that small businesses can request one-month extensions for sales and use tax returns due at the end of March and April. The Department will not assess late fees or penalties during these extensions. You can see the entire announcement
The Department’s actions are a start, but more work needs to be done to protect business liquidity and delay unnecessary compliance costs during this public health crisis. WMC has proposed a series of tax related items in our
COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Agenda
Gov. Evers Issues Order to Expedite Expansion, Enhance
Efficiency of Healthcare Workforce:
Yesterday, as part of WMC’s legislative agenda in response to the COVID-19 crisis, we called on the Governor and lawmakers to provide flexible licensing for health care workers. Specifically, we asked for flexibility for retired health care workers and to allow health care workers licensed in other states to practice in Wisconsin. Today, the Department of Health Services did just that through Emergency Order 16.
SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus:
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
Trump signs $2T coronavirus relief package:
on Friday signed a $2 trillion economic relief package aimed at helping American workers and businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill includes $1,200 one-time payments to many Americans; sets up a $500 billion corporate liquidity fund to help struggling industries like airlines; allocated $377 billion for aid to small businesses; and boosts the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week for four months, among other provisions.
Trump signed the legislation during an Oval Office ceremony at the White House Friday afternoon, just hours after it passed the House.
The massive bill, dubbed the CARES Act, was the result of days of high-stakes negotiations between the Trump administration and Senate leaders.
Gov. Evers Launches Wisconsin’s COVID-19 PPE Program:
Gov. Tony Evers today launched an initiative designed to get more personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gowns, gloves and masks, to those working on the frontlines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wisconsinites can now go to
to either donate or sell large quantities of PPE to the State of Wisconsin. The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) will then work with distribute the PPE to communities that need it the most.
The state is currently seeking the following items:
Surgical Gowns (S, L, XL, and XXL)
Face/Surgical Masks (adult, pediatric)
Gloves (Nitrile, Vinyl, or Butyl)
N-95 Particulate Respirators
If organizations or businesses have quantities of fewer than 50 of any of these items, they are encouraged to donate them to local health organizations instead of going through the buyback website.
Common Questions Answered:
“Is the new sick leave benefit only for COVID-19 related quarantine and diagnosis? Can an employee claim the paid leave for other illnesses during this time or for calling in sick for only 1 day?”
The new sick leave under the FFCRA is only for COVID-19 related illnesses and situations. If an employee calls in because of COVID-19 symptoms or a potential diagnosis, and the employer has under 500 workers, the new paid leave would apply and the employee should stay away from the worksite for 14 days or until testing verifies that they do not have COVID-19. If they call in sick with an illness that is not COVID-19, the new paid sick benefit does not apply and the case should be handled under the employer’s existing sick leave policy.
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. As a reminder, please practice proper social distancing as recommended by DHS and the CDC. Also, continue to wash your hands regularly with soap and water, avoid touching your face and please stay home if you feel ill.