April 2020 Government Affairs
Congress Is Near an Agreement on COVID-19 Loan Funding Package
The White House and Congress say they are close to striking an agreement on a new COVID-19 relief package that would boost funding for small business loan programs. According to Congressional leaders, the bill would provide approximately $310 billion in new funding for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Both programs received funding from Congress in the CARES Act (Phase 3) but have since run out of money. Congress is expected to approve the package sometime this week.
Federal Reserve Announces $2.3 trillion in Loan Support; Includes Employers with Over 500 Employees
The Federal Reserve (Fed) recently announced that they are taking additional action to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support employers of all sizes and bolster the ability of state and local governments to deliver critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more details on the new program click here. The Fed and Treasury Department will soon be releasing additional guidance on the program and BSCAI will be sure to pass this information along to members.
OSHA Issues Guidance for Recording Cases of COVID-19
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued interim guidance for enforcing OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR Part 1904) for recording cases of COVID-19. Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if the case:
- Is confirmed as a COVID-19 illness;
- Is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
- Involves one or more of the general recording criteria in 29 CFR 1904.7, such as medical treatment beyond first aid or days away from work.
In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, employers other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations, and correctional institutions may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work. Accordingly, until further notice, OSHA announced it will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where:
(1) There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related;
(2) The evidence was reasonably available to the employer.
BSCAI is closely tracking this new enforcement guidance and will relay any additional information from OSHA as it becomes available. For questions or comments, please contact Director of Government Affairs Kevin McKenney.
OSHA Issues Guidance on Discretion in Enforcement During COVID-19 Pandemic
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued interim guidance to advise compliance safety and health officers to evaluate an employer’s good faith efforts to comply with safety and health standards during the coronavirus pandemic.
Employers unable to comply with OSHA requirements because local authorities required the workplace to close should demonstrate a good faith attempt to meet applicable requirements as soon as possible following the re-opening of the workplace.
OSHA will take employers’ attempts to comply in good faith into strong consideration when determining whether it cites a violation. The agency may issue a citation if it finds an employer cannot demonstrate any efforts to comply.
To ensure corrective actions employers have taken once normal activities resume, OSHA will develop a program to conduct monitoring inspections from a randomized sampling of cases where the agency noted, but did not cite, violations. This guidance takes effect immediately, and remains in effect until further notice.
CDC Issues Interim Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Workers Possibly Exposed to a Person with COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (DCC) issued new interim guidance for implementing safety practices for critical infrastructure workers who may have had exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
The guidance is intended to ensure continuity of operations of essential functions. The CDC is advising that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.
The interim guidance pertains to critical infrastructure workers in 16 different sectors of work including: federal, state, & local law enforcement; 911 call center employees; Fusion Center employees; hazardous material responders from government and the private sector; janitorial staff and other custodial staff workers – including contracted vendors – in food and agriculture, critical manufacturing, informational technology, transportation, energy and government facilities.
For questions or comments, please contact Director of Government Affairs Kevin McKenney.
OSHA Issues Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced an interim enforcement response plan for the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The response plan provides instructions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling coronavirus-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports.
Fatalities and imminent danger exposures related to the coronavirus will be prioritized for on-site inspections. Workers requesting inspections, complaining of coronavirus exposure, or reporting illnesses may be protected under one or more whistleblower statutes and will be informed of their protections from retaliation. This memorandum will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice.
White House Releases Guidelines for Opening Up America
The White House has released guidance to assist state and local governments with their efforts to relax stay at home orders and social distancing restrictions. The Guidelines --Opening Up America-- propose a three-phase approach based on a state or local jurisdiction first satisfying “Proposed State or Regional Gating Criteria” intended to serve as guidance for implementing the three phases. Each phase of the guidance addresses those aspect of daily life for which restrictions remain appropriate due to COVID-19. The Guidelines can be found here.
Online Lenders Approved to Offer COVID-19 Small Business Loans
PayPal, Intuit and Square have all been approved by the federal government to offer loans to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This action will provide small businesses additional options for seeking federal loan assistance through the PPP. More information can be found by visiting the websites of these online lenders. For questions or comments, please contact Director of Government Affairs Kevin McKenney.