Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Unemployment Insurance Guidance Updated

On May 3rd, 2020, the US Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the Small Business Administration (SBA) released updated guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP loans have proved to be a key resource for tree care companies as we work together to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. These loans are attractive because a large portion of each are forgivable if spent on payroll costs. The updated guidance  includes important information for employers who have may have laid off employees and then offered to rehire those same employees, but the employee declined the offer, in order to satisfy the PPP loan forgiveness requirements. That information can be found at question #40. The short answer is that these employees will not be included in the loan forgiveness calculation. 

Separately, the US Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance on unemployment insurance in the form of FAQ’s that many employers have been asking. This DOL guidance can be found here. Two relevant FAQ’s for TCIA members can be found below. 

As Congress continues to work on relief measures, and as regulations on existing programs are updated, TCIA will continue to update our members with up to date information specifically tailored to tree care businesses. 

My employer has remained open because it is essential. I’m not sick, nor is anyone in my household sick. I do not have children or care for someone who cannot care for themselves. However, I’m afraid of getting coronavirus from customers coming to the store, so I quit and filed for unemployment. Can I obtain benefits under the CARES Act?

No. Under the CARES Act, you may be eligible for benefits if you meet one of the circumstances listed in the Act, but none include the scenario described. On these facts, you are not eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) because you do not meet any of the qualifying circumstances.

As a general matter, you are likely to be eligible for PUA due to concerns about exposure to the coronavirus only if you have been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine as a result of such concerns. 

I was furloughed by my employer, but they have now reopened and asked me to return to my job. Can I remain on unemployment?

No. As a general matter, individuals receiving regular unemployment compensation must act upon any referral to suitable employment and must accept any offer of suitable employment. Barring unusual circumstances, a request that a furloughed employee return to his or her job very likely constitutes an offer of suitable employment that the employee must accept.