Welcome to HR Partners' COVID page.  To receive our company newsletter, the HR Advisor, please click here.

Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated in the Workplace - Q & A

HR Partners received some great questions from one of our CEO clients recently about managing vaccinated and unvaccinated staff in the workplace.  Below is the Q & A, and our guidance:

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FAQ - Remote Worker Compliance

Frequently Asked Employer Questions for Remote Worker Compliance

COVID-19 had a significant impact on the way employers conduct business, with many employees continuing to work on a remote basis. HR Partners frequently has inquiries on how to remain compliant with employment laws while administering remote workers. See below for a few of the most common questions and answers.

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Updated OSHA Guidance

New OSHA Guidance RE: COVID-19 (June 10, 2021)

In response to the updated guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), which explains that fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except in limited situations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) released updated guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace on June 10, 2021. This guidance focuses only on protecting unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers in their workplaces. This guidance is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. 

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Job Openings Reach Record High, But Where Are the Applicants?

Great article I wanted to share from the Society for Human Resource Management.  I have bolded the most important part.  Because of the most recent circumstances, many of our clients have started to analyze their current compensation ranges.  If your organization is challenged finding employees at your current compensation ranges, please give us a call.  HR Partners can assist.

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Guidance on Masks in the Workplace

New guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) on May 13, 2021, advises that individuals who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 are no longer required to wear a mask or practice social distancing in most indoor and outdoor settings, with the exception of certain forms of public transportation as well as high-risk workplaces including health care settings, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters.

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Please Read - Very Important

Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”), employers will be required to provide COBRA premium assistance to Assistance Eligible Individuals (and their qualified beneficiaries) who are eligible for COBRA as a result of an involuntary termination of employment or reduction in hours. The premium assistance applies to periods of health coverage on or after April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. An employer or plan to whom COBRA premiums are payable is entitled to a tax credit for the amount of the premium assistance.

The Department of Labor recently released Model Notices and Frequently Asked Questions related to the ARPA Cobra premium assistance, which can be found here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy.

If you have additional questions related to the ARPA COBRA premium assistance, or need other HR assistance, please contact HR Partners at 785-233-7860.

Updating Policy Language - Return to Office

Many of our clients with HR Partners have emphasized the stress of work schedules and locations changing because of the pandemic.  Now, they want to get back to pre-March 2020 business operations schedules (if they have not already).  Please see the template policy below, and please feel free to incorporate this language into your employee handbook.

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Vaccine Finder

To find COVID-19 vaccines near you, click on the link below to view a list of providers to check availability and sign-up process.

VaccineFinder - Search for COVID-19 vaccine locations or https://vaccinefinder.org/search/

American Rescue Plan Act

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”) which became law on March 11, 2021, extends and expands, among other items, an employer’s opportunities to receive payroll tax credits for employee paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).

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Before Your Business Rewards Employees for Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine, Read This. (It May Save You a Lawsuit.)

Recently, HR Partners has received several questions related to employers incentivizing employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

On January 7, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued proposed regulations governing wellness programs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”). The new guidance states that employers generally may not offer more than “de minimis” incentives to take part in an employer’s wellness program that asks participants to provide medical information.

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Subcategories

  • Second Stimulus Package

    On December 20, 2020, Congress reached an agreement on a second stimulus package that will provide immediate aid to both individuals and businesses. This bill now must be signed by the President in order to become law. The bill will impact both the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and loans established under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).

    FFCRA. Under the bill, the FFCRA is still set to expire on December 31, 2020. However, employers may voluntarily elect to continue to provide FFCRA leave (both paid sick and paid family leave) and receive tax credits until March 31, 2021. The leave under the FFCRA does not renew. This means that any employee who has exhausted their paid leave under the FFCRA will no longer be eligible for FFCRA leave. 

    PPP. The second stimulus package also impacts the PPP by allocating 284 billion dollars for a second round of PPP loans, as well as clarifying PPP forgivable expenses and tax deductions for PPP expenses for both the original and second round of PPP loans. Most notably, the second stimulus package will provide the following:

    • Second Round of PPP Loans. Smaller and harder-hit businesses, qualifying non-profit organizations, housing cooperatives, veterans’ organizations, tribal businesses, self-employed individuals, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and small agricultural co-operatives may be eligible for a second PPP loan with a maximum amount of 2 million dollars if the business does not employee more than three hundred (300) employees, has used or will use the full amount of their first PPP, and can demonstrate at least a twenty-five percent (25%) reduction in gross receipts in the first, second, and or third quarters of 2020 relative to the same 2019 quarter.

     

    • Simplified Forgiveness Application for loans under $150,000. Under this Application, borrowers of both the original and the second round of PPP loans will receive forgiveness if they provide a lender with a one-page certification that includes a description of the number of employees the borrower was able to retain because of the covered loan, the estimated total amount of the loan spent on payroll costs, and the total loan amount. The SBA must establish this form within twenty-four (24) days of the enactment of the Act.

     

    • Allowable and Forgivable Expenses. The following expenses will be considered allowable and forgivable uses of PPP funds for both the original and second round PPP loans made before, on or after enactment of the Act, except in the event that forgiveness has already been obtained: 1) payments for software, cloud computing and other human resources and accounting needs; 2) costs related to property damage due to public disturbances that occurred during 2020 that are not covered by insurance; 3) expenditures to a supplier pursuant to a contract, purchase order, or order for goods in effect prior to taking out the loan that are essential to the borrower’s operations at the time at which the expenditure was made. Supplier costs of perishable goods can be made before or during the life of the loan; and 4) personal protective equipment and adaptive investments to help a borrower comply with COVID-19-related federal, state, or local health and safety guidelines during the period between March 1, 2020 and the end of the national emergency declaration.
    • Tax Treatment of PPP Loans. Both original and second round forgiven PPP loans will not be included in taxable income. Deductions are allowed for expenses paid with proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan, effective as of the date of enactment of the CARES Act and applicable to subsequent PPP loans.
    • Clarification of Forgivable Payroll Expenses. Employer provided group insurance benefits, such as group life, disability, vision, and dental are included in forgivable payroll costs for both the original and the second round PPP loans.

What our clients say...

Prairie Band, LLC

Tyler Levier
Operations Manager
Prairie Band, LLC
 

 “HR Partners is an excellent tool to have in your belt.  Time is taken to be sure that everyone understands every topic, the anticipated outcome, and the steps taken to achieve the desired results.  The solutions provided are prompt, professional, and thorough.  Our management team appreciates the expertise provided by HR Partners in an industry with few diamonds and much rough. HR Partners is truly a diamond in the rough.”