Coronavirus Resources for Employers

Updated 4/12/2021 at 8:30 a.m. Updates in bold

We appreciate the ongoing support of all of our members, including our Visionary Members: Bloomsburg University, First Columbia Bank & Trust, First Keystone Community Bank, Geisinger, Kawneer, PPL Electric Utilities, USG, & SEKISUI KYDEX
 

Business Operations

Restaurant and bar operations and gathering limits easing as of April 4, 2021.
    –
Frequently Asked Questions related to business operations.

Updated guidance for businesses in the restaurant industry can be found here.

– SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, provides recommendations for developing a workplace vaccination strategy.

 – Geisinger has compiled resources and information for businesses including virus symptoms, safe practices in the workplace, and testing.

 


Safe Practices

Vaccine Distribution

The PA Department of Health has announced timelines for moving to Phases 1C, and 2. All Pennsylvanians will be eligible to schedule appointments beginning April 13th. 

Columbia County EMA is assisting Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties with COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Those eligible should call 570-389-5735 Monday through Friday only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Provide name, date of birth, address and phone number.

Someone from Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties will call back to schedule an appointment. The clinic expects to experience a large volume of inquiries and asks callers to allow ample time for a call back. Callers who are not contacted within 72 hours are asked to call again.

Individuals needing a ride to a vaccination appointment can call 1-800-632-9063 to schedule a free ride with rabbittransit.

Testing

If you are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, contact your physician for a referral to a testing site.


Financial Assistance

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has compiled an updated guide for the latest Federal programs. 

Federal programs

– The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides forgivable loans to small businesses, including sole proprietors and self-employed individuals, as well as some non-profit organizations, that maintain their payroll during the emergency. Organizations with less than 300 employees can apply for a “second draw” of up to $2 million. Terms of the program are expanded to allow employers to claim eligible expenses over a period of 8 to 24 weeks and those expenses could include operations, property damage stemming from public disturbance not covered by insurance, supplier costs, and worker protection. The 60% payroll rule still applies. 

Small businesses with up to 500 employees can also apply for an initial PPP loan. 

Businesses in the restaurant and hospitality industries are eligible to receive loans of 3.5 times average monthly payroll, rather than 2.5 times for other businesses. 

Eligible organizations apply through their banking institution.

First and Second Draw applications are being accepted by local financial institutions through May 31, 2021. The deadline was recently extended from March 31. Updated PPP Lender forms, guidance, and resources are available at www.sba.gov/ppp and www.treasury.gov/cares.

Click here for a list of frequently asked PPP Loan questions.

– The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides priority for the $10,000 Advance grant to small businesses with less than 300 employees, located in census tracts approved for New Market Tax Credits, that have experienced a 30% reduction in gross receipts during any 8-week period between March 2, 2020 and December 31, 2021 compared to a comparable 8-week period before March 2. The U.S. Small Business Administration is contacting organizations eligible for the EIDL Advance. 

EIDL advances will not reduce PPP loan forgiveness and are not included in taxable income.

Small businesses and nonprofit organizations may qualify for EIDL loans with a 3.75% fixed rate for companies and a 2.75% fixed rate for nonprofits. Businesses can apply directly with the SBA for EIDL loans.

Businesses needing assistance in applying for an SBA loan can contact the Small Business Development Center network.

Columbia & Luzerne County businesses – wilkes.edu/sbdc
Montour County businesses – bucknell.edu/sbdc

The Employee Retention Credit is extended through December 31, 2021. The new credit, beginning January 1, is 70% on $10,000 in wages per quarter (or a maximum $28,000 per employee through December 31, 2021).

The new law expands eligibility to include employers who experienced a decline of more than 20% in a qualifying quarter.

Employers can also apply to the PPP program and take advantage of the tax credit program, provided the same wages are not used.

The IRS has issued updated guidance on utilizing ERC.

– The Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) grant program provides assistance to live venues that were harmed by COVID-19 restrictions. The SVO grant program will distribute $16 billion in funds to live venue operators, including eligible movie theaters, concert spaces, museums and performing arts organizations.

As of this writing, venues can receive first and second-draw PPP loans and still apply for SVO grants, but grant amounts will be reduced by the value of their PPP loans.

SVO grants will be administered directly by the SBA, and the application portal opened on April 8, 2021. Interested applicants should create a login.gov user account, obtain a D-U-N-S number, and register at SAM.gov immediately if they want to apply quickly.

– The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) provides $28.6 billion in grants targeting hard-hit restaurants and bars. Affected entities will be able to apply for grants based on lost gross revenue between 2019 and 2020, with maximum grant sizes totaling $5 million for restaurants and $10 million for restaurant groups.

Similar to the SVO grants, RRF grants will be administered directly by the SBA. The application process is expected to open soon. The SBA recently announced that applicants will not need to register on SAM.gov or submit a D-U-N-S number.

Local programs

– A new COVID relief grant for eligible hospitality industry businesses is now accepting applications.

Businesses are urged to apply as soon as possible for the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) grants since funds may be quickly exhausted.

Businesses can apply at the Community Giving Foundation’s website at www.csgiving.org until the funds are exhausted or June 15, 2021.

Grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000 and the funds will alleviate revenue losses and pay eligible operating expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible hospitality industry businesses include hotels, restaurants, bars, and taverns. These businesses must fall within eligible industry codes which include the Accommodations subsector NAICS code (721) or Food Services and Drinking Places subsector (722) found here:: https://www.naics.com/search/

Eligibility includes, but is not limited to, having fewer than 300 full-time employees; a net worth that does not exceed $15 million; a 25% reduction in gross receipts in 2020 compared to 2019; and be located within Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, or Union counties.

Priority will be given to businesses that did not already receive COVID relief funds; that were subject to closure following the disaster emergency declared by Gov. Tom Wolf on March 6, 2020; and had more than a 50% reduction in gross receipts from March 31, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. For a full listing of eligibility requirements and prioritization guidelines, visit www.csgiving.org.

– SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) has created a loan program with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. For-profit businesses can apply for loans of at least $10,000 with an interest rate of 3.25%. Funds can be used for working capital and can be disbursed based on past working capital expenses. No payments are due in the first six months. 

There is a $500 underwriting fee and a $100 filing fee.

For more information, visit https://seda-cog.org/covid-19/ or contact SEDA-COG’s Business Finance Department at cwca@seda-cog.org.

– The Chamber’s low-interest loan program is offering loans of up to $10,000 for members at 3% interest for 30 months, with interest only payments for the first 12 months. If you are interested in the Chamber’s loan program, contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber of Commerce at 570-784-2522 as funds are limited.


 

Unemployment, Benefits & HR Issues

 

 

 

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to individuals not eligible for regular benefits, including the self-employed and those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits. Click here for more information and to apply for PUA. Qualifying self-employed individuals will need to submit a copy of the Governor’s order closing businesses, available here

The PA Department of Labor and Industry provides additional UC guidance for employers with impacted employees.

New temporary paid sick leave and Family and Medical Leave Act programs are 100% reimbursable by the federal government. The effective date of both programs is April 1 and they expire December 31. Both programs are in addition to any leave the employer already offers. Click here for a guide for employers from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Click here for details from the IRS about the tax credits for paid leave.

The U.S. Department of Labor has released a required posting and FAQ regarding the FFCRA which went into effect April 1. 

Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice – Frequently Asked Questions


Small Business Recovery Program

The Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Zeigler College of Business has established a Small Business Recovery Program (SBRP) to assist local businesses in recovery from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know these are challenging days for small businesses throughout the region, and the Zeigler College of Business wants to be a partner to help solve those problems,” said Todd Shawver, dean of the Zeigler College of Business.”

The SBRP will assist regional small businesses with any aspect of their business, except for financial assistance. These services can include, but are not limited to:
• Professional sales assistance
• Social media and marketing strategy
• Business strategy redevelopment
• Cost structures and monitoring
• Tax guidance
• Open to customizing services depending on business needs.

Anyone wishing to access the services of the SBRP can do so by filling out a request form


COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Expands in PA

Starting today, Pennsylvania has entered Phase 1C of the state’s vaccine rollout. This phase includes Pennsylvania state employees, federal government workers and employees of all county and local government levels.  Effective tomorrow, April 13th, Governor Wolf announced that all Pennsylvania adults will be eligible to schedule an appointment.

Included in Phase 1C is a host of other critical employees, including public safety workers, those in the energy sector, legal services, housing construction, financial services, bank tellers, information technology workers and media companies.

Residents should continue to use the Department of Health’s Vaccine Provider Map to find a vaccine provider nearest them. The department will continue to update the map as the federal government increases the number of pharmacy chains receiving vaccine through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership.

Columbia County EMA is assisting Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties with COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Those wishing vaccinations who fall in Phase 1C eligibility should call 570-389-5735 Monday through Friday only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Provide name, date of birth, address and phone number.

Someone from Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties will call back to schedule an appointment. The clinic expects to experience a large volume of inquiries and asks callers to allow ample time for a call back. Callers who are not contacted within 72 hours are asked to call again.

People without internet access can contact the Health Hotline by calling 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

Welcome Donald Geise & Son Construction, Inc.

More than 425 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and the region. Increased membership allows the Chamber to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives. The Chamber welcomes Donald Geise & Son Construction, Inc.

Based in Danville, Donald Geise & Son Construction was founded in 1985.  They offer a variety of services including: new construction, remodeling, and custom design work.  The company is a certified green builder that incorporates green building materials and methods as a matter of standard practice. 

For more information on the Donald Geise & Son Construction Inc. visit its website, Facebook page or call 570-274-1521.

Member News- April 7, 2021

MARC Application to Montour County Zoning Hearing Board

Notice is herby given that the Zoning Hearing Board of Montour County will hold a public hearing on a request filed by MARC.

The applicant desires to secure a special exception to allow unpowered watercraft for rental to the public at the Montour Preserve and offer for rent or sell fishing, boating, and picnic supplies as deemed appropriate by MARC.  The Montour Preserve is located in Anthony Township, Montour County, and is presently zoned public/semi-public.

Interested persons should make arrangements to appear at the hearing which will be held at the Montour County Administration Building, located at 435 East Front Street, Danville, PA, on April 19th at 3:30pm.  Please note that social distancing and masks will be required.


Spring Graduation to be held in person at Redman Stadium

Bloomsburg University is thrilled to announce plans to host in-person commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021! The ceremonies will be held outdoors (rain or shine) at Redman Stadium from May 14 to 16. Each ceremony will follow the appropriate COVID-19 safety guidelines from the CDC, the PA Department of Health, and Gov. Tom Wolf’s office.

 


NEPIRC to Offer Legal Aspects of COVID-19 Vaccination for Employers Webinar Part 2

Since Part 1 of this webinar aired in February, there have been many developments and updates regarding COVID-19 vaccination that have been reported. During Part 2 of this no-cost webinar series, Attorney James Devine will cover these developments in detail for small to mid-sized manufacturers. The webinar will be held on May 5th from 10:00-11:30 am.

If you have a question you’d like to ensure is covered during this event, please submit it to Chelsey@NEPIRC.com by Friday, April 23rd.  We will once again prepare a complete Q&A document after the webinar airs that will be available for download on the NEPIRC website.
Register here.

U.S. Chamber & PA Chamber Oppose the PRO Act

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce & PA Chamber of Business & Industry strongly oppose the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act, H.R. 842), which passed the House of Representatives in early March and is now being considered by the Senate. The bill would force employees to pay union dues regardless of whether they support a union, threaten private ballots in union elections, and strip workers of their independent contractor classification.

The PRO Act would effectively overturn right-to-work laws that have been democratically passed in 27 states.  If it becomes law, workers who choose to opt of out paying unwanted union dues could be fired. Under this legislation, independent contractors would lose flexible work arrangements and see fewer earning opportunities. It would also encourage “card check” voting where union organizers would approach individual workers and demand that they publicly sign a card in favor of the union. Additionally, employers would be stripped of fundamental legal rights, losing their standing in cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

“A bill cannot be ‘pro-worker’ if it harms employees, threatens job creation, and undermines our economic recovery,” said Suzanne Clark, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The PRO Act would threaten worker privacy, force employees to pay union dues or lose their jobs, and trample free speech rights. The Chamber will fight to ensure this wish list of union-sponsored priorities fails in the Senate and never becomes law.”

“The ‘PRO Act’ that unfortunately passed the U.S. House is a radical piece of legislation that would upend decades of established labor law, significantly stacking the deck in favor of unions,” said Gene Barr, president & CEO of the PA Chamber. “This bill also clearly exposes the schism between unions and workers.  Make no mistake, this legislation is anti-worker.  It weakens workers’ rights by undermining the right to a private ballot during union elections; forces employers to turn over to unions their workers’ personal contact information – including cell phone numbers and home addresses – even if an employee objects; and prevents workers from decertifying a union they grow to oppose.”

To help employers better understand the implications of this sweeping legislation, the PA Chamber will host a free webinar on Tuesday, April 13 at 11 a.m.  Presented in partnership with McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the program will provide an overview of the legislation, how employers should prepare and how the business community can work together to push back against this misguided proposal.

Register for the webinar at the PA Chamber’s website.

Additional information including a link to the legislation is available at www.uschamber.com/stop-the-pro-act.

Telework Now Encouraged, Not Mandated by the State

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

As progress continues on the state’s vaccine distribution effort, the Wolf administration last week updated its mitigation order to strongly encourage, but no longer mandate, telework for businesses.  Organizations choosing to conduct in-person operations are still required to implement safety measures to help prevent the spread of the virus – including social distancing, masking and following gathering and occupancy guidelines.

In a statement announcing the order revision, Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin said, “We’ve made significant progress in our battle against COVID-19, so we must continue abiding by all guidelines and orders, including masking and social distancing when out and about. The best way to support our local businesses is to create a safe environment for everyone so that we can combat the virus’s spread, which will help position us to bounce back easier and faster long term.” 

Prior to this change, telework was mandated except in circumstances where it was not possible.  The updated telework order went into effect on Sunday, April 4.  Sunday also marked the lifting of restrictions for the restaurant industry – including increasing capacity limits to 75 percent and allowing for bar seating and service.

More information on the updated orders can be found here