LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - As business owners wait for relief from the federal government in response to COVID-19, many are looking at exactly what the signing of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act means for them, specifically the most recent phase.
“The Families First Coronavirus cares response act really is named for addressing the fact that there would be some employees that would potentially need paid sick leave due to suffering COVID-19 symptoms or needing to care for someone that does,” said Norma Ritz Johnson, executive vice president of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. However, she also said there is an exception for small businesses.
“What the act did was it created an exemption for businesses with fewer than 50 employees who can be exempted from this requirement of offering paid sick leave or extended family leave for COVID-19. If the small business meets one of any of those criteria, then they can actually get exempted from the requirement and it begins April 1st,” said Johnson.
The criteria includes:
- If providing paid sick or extended family leave means the small businesses financial obligations exceed their revenue
- If the employee’s absences from work risks the financial health or operational capabilities of a small business because of the employee’s specialized skills
- If there are not enough employees available to fill a role, causing the business to operate at minimal capacity
But, Johnson says filing for an exemption does not mean employers don’t care about their employees, “Ultimately, our members, our businesses in Lubbock want to do what is right for their employees.” Which is why she says the most recent phase, the payment protection program, as very good news.
“This loan is largely forgivable if the employer can maintain and retain their employees through this. The funds can also be used for rent, or mortgage payments, utilities, as well as for payroll,” added Johnson.
In addition to small businesses, 501(c)(3)'s and non-profits can also apply.
“The Paycheck Protection Program is um, it really is intended to help employers retain their work forces, retain their employees and continue to operate as well. It is really the shot in the arm that businesses need right now,” said Johnson.
She is encouraging businesses to get in touch with their lenders and financial institutions as soon as possible because the loans could be available as early as Friday, April 3.
Johnson says there is one take-away she hopes employers remember, “We are here to help find solutions for businesses as well as keep them informed about the solutions such as the paycheck protection loan that they need to hear about right now. There’s a lot of information, but as the central business organization in Lubbock, the largest business federation on the South Plains, we are doing everything that we can do to provide reliable information, to provide timely information and effective information for Lubbock area employers.”
The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce is hosting a free webinar with the Small Business Administration on small business loan availability Wednesday, April 1st at 1:00 p.m. If you would like to sign-up, you can do so here: click here.