For now, there is no denying that the “new normal” in the United States is grim. As COVID-19 spreads across the country, we are inundated with case numbers, death rates and new government restrictions. As schools and small businesses remain closed, unemployment claims continue to soar.
That’s not to say there isn’t a silver lining, however. Throughout the United States, businesses of all sizes have turned their efforts to making supplies for healthcare providers on the front lines. People throughout Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Palm Beach are also finding all sorts of ways to help one another in their local communities. Meanwhile, the federal and Florida state government are doing their best to provide financial assistance to those hardest hit by the economic fallout caused by the pandemic.
Keep reading to learn more about the aid and funding available for Florida businesses affected by COVID-19.
Provisions Afforded By The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (CARES Act)
Under this new law, some employers must provide their employees with paid sick leave or enhanced family and medical leave in circumstances related to COVID-19.
You are eligible for these federal benefits if you work for a private sector business with less than 500 employees, or you have a public sector job that is usually subject to Title II of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Depending on your specific situation, you can qualify for:
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at your regular pay rate.
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds of your regular pay rate.
- No more than 10 extra weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds of your regular pay rate.
You can learn more about qualifying circumstances, how your pay is calculated, and duration of leave here.
Florida’s Short Time Compensation Program For Employees
This voluntary program, coordinated by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, is available to employers during “temporary slowdowns.” It allows participating employers to cut work hours rather than laying people off at those times.
This program is open to interested employers based on the following conditions:
- The submission and approval of the required application.
- The understanding that a minimum of 10 percent (or a minimum of two) of your employees in your total staff or in a particular department must work reduced hours.
- That the employer identifies the employee participating in the program and provides information about his or her normal weekly hours (excluding overtime) to the Department of Economic Opportunity.
- That the employer promises to cut said employee’s normal number of weekly work hours by no less than10 percent and more than 40 percent.
- That the program is implemented as a temporary measure during an economic slowdown in lieu of temporary layoffs.
Participating employees must also meet the requirements listed on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s website.
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan
The governor of Florida activated this program to make short-term, interest-free loans available to businesses adversely affected by the pandemic.
It is coordinated through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (FFCFC), and provides relief for businesses at an especially crucial time. Specifically, it helps businesses make ends meet from the time when losses are incurred until it obtains other types of financial assistance.
To qualify, a business must submit an application and supporting documents and meet the criteria listed here.
Disaster Loan Assistance Available Through The Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is also making Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advances available to small business owners throughout the United States.
The maximum amount of each advance is $10,000, and its purpose is to provide economic relief to businesses now facing temporary financial losses. To qualify, a small business impacted by the pandemic must submit an application and meet the following criteria:
- Have less than 500 employees; or
- Be a private non-profit organization; or
- Be a 501(c)(19) veterans’ organization.
Sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons financially affected by COVID-19 may also apply.
According to the SBA funding will be expedited once applications are approved and repayment is not required.
For more information about additional programs offered through the SBA, click here.
The Legal Team At Eskander Loshak LLP Is Here To Help
During these difficult times, we remain committed to providing our clients and the entire South Florida business community with application assistance, legal advice and guidance. As always, you can reach us online by phone at (954) 334-1122.