COVID-19 Resources and Tools for Members

ACF remains committed to providing our members and followers with regular updates on the impacts of COVID-19. The resources listed and information provided below are a collection from allied organizations and previous communications to members.  If you would like to see any information added here, please contact membership@acf-foresters.org.

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CARES Act (Added April 1, 2020)

CISA Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce (Added April 1, 2020)

Essential Worker Letter Template (Added April 3, 2020)

FFCRA and Your Business (Added April 6, 2020)

COVID-19 and The Workplace (Added April 6, 2020)

SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program for Small Businesses (Added April 10, 2020, Updated April 17, 2020)

Federal Reserve Announces Loan Program (Added April 10, 2020)

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Launches Save Small Business Initiative (Added April 17, 2020)

White House Releases Reopening America Guidelines (Added April 17, 2020)

Congress Passes Additional Coronavirus Relief Package (Added April 24, 2020)


CARES Act (Added April 1, 2020)

 

On March 27, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package aimed at helping individuals and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic was signed into law by President Trump.

Provisions for individuals include payments of $1,200 payments for individuals with income at or under $75,000 or $2,400 for married couples at or under $150,000.  The bill also includes payments of an additional $500 per child as well as flexibility regarding distributions from retirement accounts and loans from retirement plans.

Small business provisions include changes to the Small Business Administration's 7(a) loan program, the primary program for providing financial assistance to small businesses.  These changes include an increase to a $10 million maximum loan amount and expansion of allowable uses to include payroll support including paid sick or medial leave, insurance premiums, and mortgage, rent, and utility payments. Additionally, provisions to increase the government guarantee of 7(a) loans to 100% and deferment of loan payments are also included in the bill.  Guidance and loan resources for small business are available on the SBA's website, here.  For information on the SBA Paycheck Protection Program PPP specifically, check out a helpful summary prepared by the Forest Resources Association here and see below for additional information on the PPP.  

For corporations, the Net Operating Losses provision relaxes the limitations on a company’s use of losses from prior years aimed at allowing companies to utilize losses and amend prior years’ returns to provide critical cash flow and liquidity.  Additionally, provisions for deferred social security tax payment, refundable payroll tax credit, recovery of corporate alternative minimum tax credits, an increase to the business interest limitation, and modification to loss limitation applicable to pass-through businesses and sole proprietors aimed at the same also exist in the bill.


CISA Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce (Added April 1, 2020)

Guidance on essential critical infrastructure employees has been issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). "Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products" are included as part of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.  This guidance from DHS is helpful, but is only an advisory to states, who are able to adopt their own rules and restrictions.  

 

Our friends at the Forest Resources Association (FRA) have developed an online tool to track COVID-19 related restrictions on the forest products industry on a state-by-state level.  We encourage members to work within their state chapters and local coalitions to communicate with state authorities to secure the forest products supply chain as critical infrastructure and employees as essential.


Essential Worker Letter Template (Added April 3, 2020)

As a number of states and municipalities adopt “shelter in place," "stay at home" or other such orders that restrict individual movement or business operations, ACF has been working with allied organization partners to better understand how these orders may affect your operations.  Many of these orders include designations of “essential” activities for which individuals are allowed to leave their homes including to conduct "essential" business operations.

Currently, many states and local jurisdictions have adopted the federal Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidance identifying "Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products" as part of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.  However, states may opt to adopt additional rules and restrictions on "essential" businesses.  One of our organization partners, the Forest Resources Association (FRA), has developed an online tool to track restrictions at the state level.  Additionally we encourage you to stay up-to-date with guidance from authorities in your states and local jurisdictions.

Whether those traveling may be required to produce justification of their movements remains unclear in many jurisdictions.  Nonetheless, we are following the lead of other industries and member requests in providing the a template that your company may use for individuals to explain the reason for travel to work.  Download the template by clicking here then clicking the download button at the top of the page.  If your state has adopted the CISA guidelines or otherwise identified those supporting the forest products supply chain as "essential," you are welcome to use the attached template to supply your employees/contractors with such a letter.  You may adapt or modify the template as necessary to fit your company’s specific needs.  For example, replace "An employee or independent contractor" with "owner of" or add your company's protocols to mitigate risk, if applicable.  Please note neither the information above nor the template constitute legal advice.  Companies should consult with their own legal counsel before determining how best to operate their business pursuant to federal, state and local orders affecting businesses.  


FFCRA and Your Business (Added April 6, 2020)

Yesterday the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) posted a temporary rule issuing regulations pursuant to the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLA), both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  As with the FFCRA, these regulations will be in effect from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The regulations are intended to clarify the administration of the law's paid leave requirements as well as which small businesses may qualify for an exemption.  View the DOL News Release here.

Additional information can be found on the FFCRA Questions and Answers page of the DOL website.

An important to note is that all employers, regardless of whether they choose to elect the small business exemption, must post the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice.  Information about doing so can be found in the FFCRA Notice FAQ.  

As described in the Rule, which can be downloaded here

"The FFCRA covers private employers with fewer than 500 employees and certain public employers. Small employers with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption from the requirement to provide paid leave due to school, place of care, or child care provider closings or unavailability, if the leave payments would jeopardize the viability of their business as a going concern."
 
“The Department believes it is necessary to set forth objective criteria for when a small business with fewer than 50 employees can deny an employee paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave to care for the employee’s son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, for COVID-19 related reasons.”

“Exemption from requirement to provide leave under the EPSLA Section 5102(a)(5) and the EFMLEA for Employers with fewer than 50 Employees. 

(1) An Employer, including a religious or nonprofit organization, with fewer than 50 Employees (small business) is exempt from providing Paid Sick Leave under the EPSLA and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under the EFMLEA when the imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. A small business under this section is entitled to this exemption if an authorized officer of the business has determined that: 

(i) The leave requested under either section 102(a)(1)(F) of the FMLA or section 5102(a)(5) of the EPSLA would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity; 
(ii) The absence of the Employee or Employees requesting leave under either section 102(a)(1)(F) of the FMLA or section 5102(a)(5) of the EPSLA would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or 
(iii) There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the Employee or Employees requesting leave under either section 102(a)(1)(F) of the FMLA or section 5102(a)(5) of the EPSLA, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity. 

(2) To elect this small business exemption, the Employer must document that a determination has been made pursuant to the criteria set forth by the Department in § 826.40(b)(1). The Employer should not send such documentation to the Department, but rather retain the records in its files. (3) Regardless of whether a small Employer chooses to exempt one or more Employees, the Employer is still required to post a notice pursuant to § 826.80  

(3) Regardless of whether a small Employer chooses to exempt one or more Employees, the Employer is still required to post a notice pursuant to § 826.80."


COVID-19 and The Workplace (Added April 6, 2020)

Yesterday Guidance for preparing workplaces for COVID-19 is available from OSHA here and from the CDC here.  

SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program for Small Businesses (Added April 10, 2020, Updated April 17, 2020)

The Small Business Administration launched the Paycheck Protection Program, a $349 billion emergency loan program in early April.  Created in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the program provides forgivable loans up to $10 million to small businesses financially impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The loans, which will be administered at the local level by a national network of banks and credit unions, are designed to maintain the viability of millions of small businesses struggling to meet payroll and day-to-day operating expenses.  As of today, small businesses, sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals can all now apply and should do so as quickly as possible as there is a funding cap.  Click here for additional information and links to the application.

SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program Funding Exhausted

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced on April 16th that it has stopped accepting applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) after exhausting the $349 billion appropriated for the program.  The agency approved over 1.6 million loan applications between the application window opening April 3rd and yesterday's announcement.  Adjourning for the week following a pro-forma yesterday afternoon, Senate Republicans and Democrats remain at an impasse when it comes to replenishing program funding.  Created in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the program was designed to provide forgivable loans up to $10 million to small businesses financially impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 


Federal Reserve Announces Loan Program (Added April 10, 2020)

The Federal Reserve announced on April 9th that it would provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy and assist households and employers of all sizes.  A cornerstone is the Main Street Lending Program which will offer 4-year loans to companies with up to 10,000 employees or less than $2.5 billion in revenues.  Principal and interest payments will be deferred for one year and eligible banks may originate new Main Street loans or use Main Street loans to increase the size of existing loans to businesses.  Find additional information and an opportunity to provide feedback here


U.S. Chamber of Commerce Launches Save Small Business Initiative (Added April 17, 2020)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced on Wednesday the launch of the Save Small Business Initiative, a nationwide program aimed at addressing small businesses’ immediate needs, mitigating closures and job losses, and mobilizing support for long-term recovery.  As described in the release, the initiative features a four-part campaign including financial aid, resources and guidance, advocacy, and polling, as well as a call to action for the larger business community and government to help small businesses.  Funded by corporate and philanthropic partners, the the initiative is a collective effort to provide $5,000 grants to qualified applicants employing between 3 and 20 people, located in an economically vulnerable community, and that have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Click here for additional information on eligibility and the application which will be made available on April 20th. 


White House Releases Reopening America Guidelines (Added April 17, 2020)

President Trump announced new guidelines on three phases of Opening Up America Again at a press briefing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force yesterday.  The guidelines do not include a timeline for relaxing restrictions but provide criteria for state and local officials to use in making decisions.  There has been a mixed reception to the guidelines with critics pointing out the U.S. lacks testing capabilities needed to address some of these requirements.  States are not legally required to follow the guidelines and several separate regional pacts have been launched by states to coordinate plans for reopening.     


Congress Passes Additional Coronavirus Relief Package (Added April 24, 2020)

Legislation provides $480 billion for relief

Following weeks of contentious negotiations, the House voted on April 23rd to pass legislation providing $480 billion for coronavirus relief.  The legislation was passed unanimously by the Senate days earlier and was signed into law by President Trump on April 24th.  The package is aimed to support small businesses, hospitals and expanded medical testing and includes $310 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $75 billion for hospitals and health centers and $25 billion for increased COVID-19 testing.  Addressing concern that vulnerable small businesses were not being adequately served by the PPP, the legislation earmarks funding for small banks and credit unions who generally serve these  businesses. 

 

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