The Road to Recovery – Resource Page for Employers

As we move down the road to a post-pandemic physical and economic recovery,  there are still a number of challenges for employers.    AIM will continue to provide updates and resources to assist you through this transition.

Please be sure to bookmark this page and check in frequently.

New Resources June 2021

  • Click here for details on the extension of select COVID-19 policy provisions
  • Click here for AIM’s Q3 Government Affairs Highlights

Resources May 2021

Employers can book dedicated slots at vaccination sites for their workers or host onsite vaccine clinics.  

Option 1: Group Appointment at Mass Vaccination Locations.  

Employers can request a block of appointments at any of the Commonwealth’s mass vaccination sites. Employers should fill out this form to reserve slots for their employees Employers can help register their employees or share a link for employees to sign themselves up during the reserved block of appointments 

Only demographic information is required for registration, insurance and identification are not required. Employers can make use of this program at the following mass vaccination locations: 

Option 2Mobile on-site employer vaccination clinics  

Employers who have confirmed 35 or more employees that will obtain a vaccine can request a mobile on-site vaccination clinic. A vaccine provider will come on-site to the employer’s location to vaccinate workers and return 3-4 weeks later with a second dose. To secure an onsite visit, employers will need to provide the following: address of the employer and a contact person, the number of confirmed employees, an indoor or outdoor space for the pop-up clinic, the type of appointment registration, and the requested date and time. 

Employers should use this form for booking onsite visits. Priority will be based on the number of employees seeking vaccination and the location of the employers. An employer in a location with vaccination rates below the state average will be prioritized.  

Additionally, AIM members can sign up for onsite visits and dedicates time slots for their employees through CIC Health and fill out this form. Individuals can also sign up for free Lyft rides to or from vaccine CIC-sponsored vaccine locations here. 

Please reach out to Sam Larson with questions or if you are interested in joining AIM’s Reopening Taskforce. The task force meets monthly to discuss reopening regulations and options for employers during the COVID-19 recovery. 


AIM Resources

AIM Resource Documents

Unemployment Insurance

Massachusetts enacted legislation to make state unemployment insurance (UI) more accessible to individuals affected by COVID-19. The law waived the typical one-week waiting period between submission of an application and the commencement of weekly benefits for Massachusetts employees who are separated from work due to the outbreak of COVID-19, or as a result of the state of emergency declared by Governor Baker on March 10. Such individuals are now able to access their benefits more quickly.

The legislation also allowed self-insured, reimbursing employers including nonprofits, Indian tribes, and local governments a 120-day extension to pay back into the UI Trust Fund which is currently set to expire in December 2020.

The federal CARES Act provides the following Unemployment Insurance provisions:

  • $260 billion for increased unemployment assistance, including up to four months of full replacement wages up to certain limits for individuals who lose a job or are furloughed.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides unemployment benefits to individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation and are unable to work because of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Qualified individuals may include self-employed workers (including gig workers and independent contractors), part-time workers, and those with limited work histories. The changes to increase the size of regular unemployment benefits and make them available for additional weeks will also apply to benefits received through the PUA program. PUA will be state-administered but fully federally funded. The program is effective through December 31, 2020.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation makes an additional 13 weeks of federally funded unemployment compensation available to individuals who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits available immediately through December 31, 2020.
  • Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations reduces the amount that nonprofits, Indian Tribes, and governmental entities are required to reimburse states for benefits paid to their workers who claim unemployment insurance by 50 percent through December 31, 2020.
  • Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation added $600 in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation to every weekly unemployment benefit, effective until July 31, 2020. This $600 benefit is taxable (like regular unemployment benefits), but it will be disregarded in determining Medicaid or CHIP eligibility.
  • Temporary Full Federal Funding of the First Week of Compensable Regular Unemployment for States with No Waiting Week allows states to enter into an agreement with the federal government to receive full reimbursement for the total amount of unemployment compensation paid to individuals for their first week of unemployment, provided that the state does not have a waiting week between applying for and receiving benefits, effective until December 31, 2020. (Which was included in the Massachusetts legislation explained above).
  • Temporary Financing of Short-Time Compensation in States with Programs in Law would provide 100 percent federal reimbursement to states for payments made under qualifying short-time compensation programs (also known as work-sharing programs) through December 31, 2020.

The federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program was administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and initiated through an executive order signed by the president. Through LWA, Massachusetts was able to send an additional $300/week for six weeks to individuals receiving at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefits from the state during weeks ending on August 1 through September 5.

The program was initiated once the additional $600/week from the CARES Act Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program expired on July 31, 2020. Legislative efforts are underway on the state level to allow more Massachusetts residents to qualify for the additional assistance.  

Paid Family and Medical Leave

AIM is currently monitoring federal negotiations regarding additional stimulus legislation possibly before or after January 2021, which may impact FFCRA and pending deadlines in December 2020.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which took effect on April 1.

FFCRA applies to businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members.  Documents provide guidance such as how an employer must count the number of employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption, count hours for part-time employees; and calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law.

The guidance is just the first round of information and compliance assistance to come from WHD. A workplace poster required for most employers will be published later this week, along with additional fact sheets and more Q&A.

AIM is also currently tracking federal negotiations that may further amend these new federal laws.  Click here for additional background on those negotiations.  AIM will continue to provide you with updates should change to the FFCRA arise.

AIM member audit and law firms have produced great summaries of this legislation.

Taxes

AIM is monitoring federal and state tax discussions especially through state budget deliberations, please contact AIM’s Government Affairs team for the latest information or to sign up for updates.

State

The Baker Administration announced administrative tax relief measures for small local businesses that have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. The tax relief includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes that would be due in March, April and May. They will instead be due on June 20. Additionally, all penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived.

  • Businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020, will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and business that paid less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020, will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes.

Federal

Under the federal CARES Act:

  • Employee retention credit- a new temporary refundable 50 percent employee retention credit for employers subject to full or partial business suspension due to the COVID-19 emergency or for employers whose gross receipts have significantly declined due to COVID-19 applied against the employer’s share of payroll taxes. The amount of qualified compensation (including health benefits) eligible for the credit with respect to any individual employee is limited to $10,000.
  • Payroll taxes- Delays in payment of certain applicable 2020 employer payroll taxes from the date of enactment through December 31, 2020. Half of the deferred tax is to be paid by December 31, 2021, and the remainder by December 31, 2022.
  • Corporate AMT credit refunds- Accelerates the ability of companies to receive refunds of AMT credits in tax years beginning in 2019. Alternatively, companies could elect to claim the entire refundable AMT credit in tax years beginning in 2018.
  • Section 163(j) changes to increase the 30 percent adjusted taxable income limitation to 50 percent for tax years beginning in 2019 and 2020. For 2019, this provision does not apply to partnerships – partners may deduct 50 percent of their distributive share of the partnership’s excess business interest in 2020 without regard to Section 163(j). The provision also allows a taxpayer to elect to use its 2019 adjusted taxable income for its 2020 limitation.

More information: PWC and The Tax Foundation

Massachusetts Workshare Program

WorkShare is a program that offers a smart alternative to layoffs. Employees work reduced hours while collecting unemployment benefits to supplement their lower wages.