September 18, 2020: $300 Unemployment Assistance May Be Coming to Your State

Gusto Editors

September 18, 2020

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Unemployment update

President Trump recently signed an executive action to replenish unemployment benefits with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) via the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program.

So far, 42 states have opted in to offer the $300-per-week benefit, retroactive to August 1, 2020. States can also choose to provide an extra $100 from state funds if they’re able.

Check here to see if your state is offering the benefit.

The latest on leave

The Department of Labor (DOL) made a few noteworthy updates to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), a bill aimed at enabling employers to provide leave for workers impacted by COVID-19.

The DOL made the following changes:

  • Emphasized that employees can only take leave if work is available to them, meaning furloughed employees can’t take leave.
  • Specified that in order to take leave under the FFCRA, employees must get approval from employers.
  • Asserted that employees must provide employers with documentation to support the need for leave.
  • Clarified when employees must provide notice to employers on taking leave.
  • Revised the definition of healthcare provider to be consistent with the definition under Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

We’ll go into detail on each update in Gusto’s guide to the FFCRA. Sign up to receive push notifications when you visit our blog to get the latest updates as soon as they go live.

Does your state require employee COVID-19 training?

Returning to work amid a pandemic is a whole new ball game. There are myriad new protocols that workers should know about to keep businesses and customers safe. But COVID-19 safety training is not just a good idea—in some states, it’s required by law. It’s important to know:

  • Whether each state has issued guidance
  • Whether the guidance is simply suggested or required
  • Which industries are expected to comply

We cover each of these in our state-by-state guide. Look up your state to make sure you’re staying compliant.

Recommended read: ‘On the Margins’

Are you an accountant, or simply interested in the industry? Or do you want to learn more about accounting from a pro with a wicked sense of humor? Then ‘On the Margins’ is the newsletter you’ve been waiting for.

Get weekly insights on small business finance and the accounting industry from our very own Caleb Newquist, founding editor of Going Concern and Gusto Editor-at-Large.

You’ll laugh and you’ll learn. Subscribe here. 

Headlines from the week

  • Unable to Pay Rent, Small Businesses Hope for a Deal With Their Landlord (New York Times) — With government relief funds drying up and the pandemic persisting, small businesses unable to make rent are entering into “informal and fragile” agreements with their landlords to keep their storefronts.
  • California Workers to Get Stronger Family Leave Protections Under New State Law (Los Angeles Times) — A new bill requires employers with five or more workers—rather than 50 or more, as previously required—to offer 12 weeks of unpaid time off for family leave beginning January 1. 
  • Yelp Data Shows 60% of Business Closures Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic Are Now Permanent (CNBC) — Nearly 100,000 (97,966 to be exact) of the businesses that closed in the wake of the pandemic have become permanent closures.

Top relief options for the week

  • American Express, in collaboration with the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is making a $10 million commitment to support Black entrepreneurs with a grant program. The “Coalition to Back Black Businesses,” which includes the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Business League, the US Black Chambers, and Walker’s Legacy, will work together to support small business recovery in the US over the next four years. Applications for $5,000 grants are open now through September 21.
  • Fifth Third Bank, in partnership with AEO and LISC, announced the $1.2 million Innovation Meets Main Street program to boost Black women-owned businesses. Businesses with less than $1 million in revenue in the following cities can apply for $10,000 grants: Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH; Detroit, MI; Nashville, TN; and Orlando, FL.
  • Illinois’s Business Interruption Grant (BIG) Program has received a $220 million second round of funding to provide relief for small businesses, particularly those downstate, in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs), and for heavily impacted industries and regions. Applications opened on September 17.
  • See more relief options in our Small Business Relief Finder.

Want more small business news and resources? Check out past editions in our archive.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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