The Tree Care Industry and COVID-19

Updated July 8, 2020

TCIA advises our members to check back to this page often for updates on actions by Congress and other COVID-19 news that may impact the tree care industry. Many of the links on this website will bring you to outside websites.

Company Resources

  • Paycheck Protection Program FAQ (HOVER TO LEARN MORE)

    • TCIA government relations staff compiled a list of frequently asked questions on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Many member companies have taken advantage of this forgivable loan program in response to COVID-19. This list of frequently asked questions aims to provide tree care companies some clarity when navigating this new program. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Aiden O’Brien, TCIA’s Advocacy & Standards Manager at aobrien@tcia.org.

      Click here to read the Paycheck Protection Program FAQ.

  • Coronavirus Tax Relief for Businesses (HOVER TO LEARN MORE)

    • The IRS has information and resources on their website regarding tax relief for businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include an extension of the federal tax filing and payment deadline, and several new tax credits for businesses. These include an employee retention credit, and tax credits for paid leave in response to obligations under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act. More information on these credits can be found below, and we encourage members to reach out with any questions.

       

      Employee Retention Credit:

      The employee retention credit is designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.

       

      The credit is available to all employers regardless of size, including tax-exempt organizations. There are only two exceptions: State and local governments and their instrumentalities and small businesses who take small business loans.

       

      Qualifying employers must fall into one of two categories:

      1. The employer's business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter.
      2. The employer's gross receipts are below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer's gross receipts go above 80% of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter.

       

      Employers will calculate these measures each calendar quarter.

       

      Paid Sick Leave Credit and Family Leave Credit:

      The paid sick leave credit is designed to allow business to get a credit for an employee who is unable to work (including telework) because of Coronavirus quarantine or self-quarantine or has Coronavirus symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.  Those employees are entitled to paid sick leave for up to 10 days (up to 80 hours) at the employee’s regular rate of pay up to $511 per day and $5,110 in total.

      The employer can also receive the credit for employees who are unable to work due to caring for someone with Coronavirus or caring for a child because the child’s school or place of care is closed, or the paid childcare provider is unavailable due to the Coronavirus.  Those employees are entitled to paid sick leave for up to two weeks (up to 80 hours) at 2/3 the employee’s regular rate of pay or, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in total.  

      Employees are also entitled to paid family and medical leave equal to 2/3 of the employee’s regular pay, up to $200 per day and $10,000 in total.  Up to 10 weeks of qualifying leave can be counted towards the family leave credit. 

      Employers can be immediately reimbursed for the credit by reducing their required deposits of payroll taxes that have been withheld from employees' wages by the amount of the credit.

       

      Eligible employers are entitled to immediately receive a credit in the full amount of the required sick leave and family leave, plus related health plan expenses and the employer’s share of Medicare tax on the leave, for the period of April 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020. The refundable credit is applied against certain employment taxes on wages paid to all employees. 

       

      How will employers receive the credit?

      Employers can be immediately reimbursed for the credit by reducing their required deposits of payroll taxes that have been withheld from employees' wages by the amount of the credit.

       

      Eligible employers will report their total qualified wages and the related health insurance costs for each quarter on their quarterly employment tax returns or Form 941 beginning with the second quarter. If the employer's employment tax deposits are not sufficient to cover the credit, the employer may receive an advance payment from the IRS by submitting Form 7200 , Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19.

       

      Eligible employers can also request an advance of the Employee Retention Credit by submitting Form 7200.

       

      The IRS has also posted Employee Retention Credit FAQs and Paid Family Leave and Sick Leave FAQs that will help answer questions.

    • Learn more on the IRS Tax Relief for Businesses website here.

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Emergency Advance (HOVER TO LEARN MORE)

    • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in response to the COVID-19 situation has made its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Emergency Advance Available for eligible small businesses, typically businesses with fewer than 500 employees. This loan and advance aims to provide support to businesses that are experiencing a temporary loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses who apply for the EIDL are eligible for a $10,000 advance, which can be quickly disbursed and will not have to be repaid.

      Learn more about the EIDL and emergency advance and apply here.

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Coronavirus Relief Website (HOVER TO LEARN MORE)

    • SBA Coronavirus Relief Website

      The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering a suite of programs designed to help small businesses navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs include the Paycheck Protection Program, the EIDL Loan Advance, SBA Express Bridge Loans, and SBA Debt Relief. These funding programs should be closely reviewed by all tree care companies adversely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

      Learn more by visiting the SBA Coronavirus Relief website here.

  • Treasury Guidance Released for Paycheck Protection Program (HOVER TO LEARN MORE)

    • The US Treasury Department recently released guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a key provision aimed at helping small businesses adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage all members to review the offers from the various programs, and to consider what aid they may need in the face of this unprecedented situation. The application period opens April 3rd, 2020, and members are encouraged to apply quickly as funds are limited.

      For a top-line overview of the program CLICK HERE, If you’re a lender, more information can be found HERE, If you’re a borrower, more information can be found HERE, and the application for borrowers can be found HERE.

  • Expanded FMLA and Sick Leave (HOVER TO LEARN MORE)

    • Beginning April 1st, 2020, all companies of 500 employees or fewer are required to provide paid expanded Family and Medical Leave, as well as emergency paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act.

      These are large, mandated changes to many of our members’ company policies, and TCIA is here to answer your questions about complying with the law. Below is an explanation of certain aspects of the law that will apply to many of our member companies.

      TCIA STRONGLY RECCOMENDS ALL TREE CARE COMPANIES REVIEW THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR’S WEBPAGE ON THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS LAW

      https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

      CHECK BACK FOR FREQUENT UPDATES TO THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR’S “Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers” WEB PAGE AT: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

      Expanded FMLA Leave

      Employee Eligibility
      All employees who have been employed with the company for at least 30 days from the time they request leave.

      Reason for Leave
      Eligible employees who are unable to work (or telework) due to a need to care for their child when the school or place of care has been closed, or the regular childcare provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency with respect to COVID-19.

      Duration of Leave
      Employees will have up to 12 weeks of leave to use from April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, for the purposes stated above. This time is included in and not in addition to the total FMLA leave entitlement of 12 weeks in a 12-month period.

      EMPLOYERS WITH 50 EMPLOYEES OR FEWER: STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, AS YOU MAY BE ABLE TO APPLY FOR EXEMPTIONS TO CERTAIN PARTS OF THIS REQUIREMENT

      Pay During Leave
      Leave will be unpaid for the first 10 days of leave; however, employees may use any accrued paid vacation, sick or personal leave during this time. The employee may also elect to use the paid leave provided under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, as further explained below. After the first 10 days, leave will be paid at two-thirds of an employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work. Pay will not exceed $200 per day, and $10,000 in total. Any unused portion of this pay will not carry over to the next year.

      Procedure for Requesting Leave
      All employees requesting FMLA leave must provide written notice, where possible, of the need for leave to the HR manager as soon as practicable. Verbal notice will otherwise be accepted until written notice can be provided. Within five business days after the employee has provided this notice, the HR manager will complete and provide the employee with any Department of Labor (DOL) required notices.

      The notice the employee provides should include a brief statement as to the reason for leave, and if possible, the expected duration.

      On a basis that does not discriminate against employees on FMLA leave, the company may require an employee on FMLA leave to report periodically on the employee's status and intent to return to work.

      Emergency Paid Sick Leave

      Eligibility

      All full- and part-time employees unable to work (or telework) due to one of the following reasons for leave:

      1. 1. The employee is subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19.
      2. 2. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19.
      3. 3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
      4. 4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to either number 1 or 2 above.
      5. 5. The employee is caring for his or her child if the school or place of care of the child has been closed, or the childcare provider of such child is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions.
      6. 6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the secretary of health and human services in consultation with the secretary of the treasury and the secretary of labor.

      Amount of Paid Sick Leave
      All eligible full-time employees will have up to 80 hours of paid sick leave available to use for the qualifying reasons above. Eligible part-time employees are entitled to the number of hours worked, on average, over a two-week period.

      Rate of Pay
      Paid emergency sick leave will be paid at the employee's regular rate of pay, or minimum wage, whichever is greater, for leave taken for reasons 1-3 above. Employees taking leave for reasons 4-6 will be compensated at two-thirds their regular rate of pay, or minimum wage, whichever is greater. Pay will not exceed:

      • • $511 per day and $5,110 in total for leave taken for reasons 1-3 above;
      • • $200 per day and $2,000 in total for leave taken for reasons 4-6 above.

      Interaction with Other Paid Leave
      The employee may use emergency paid sick leave under this policy before using any other accrued paid time off for the qualifying reasons stated above. Employees on expanded FMLA leave under this policy may use emergency paid sick leave during the first 10 days of normally unpaid FMLA leave.

      Procedure for Requesting Emergency Paid Sick Leave
      Employees must notify their manager or the HR manager of the need and specific reason for leave under this policy. A form will be provided to all employees on the company intranet and/or in a manner accessible to all. Verbal notification will be accepted until practicable to provide written notice.

      TCIA STRONGLY RECCOMENDS ALL TREE CARE COMPANIES REVIEW THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR’S WEBPAGE ON THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS LAW

      https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

  • COVID-19 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (HOVER TO LEARN MORE)

      The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated their website titled What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws. This website answers some frequently asked questions regarding employer’s responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This area is complex, and guidance from public health officials related to COVID-19 is changing as we continue learning more about the disease. Employers should stay up to date with local, state, and federal health guidance and information on maintaining workplace safety. This EEO guide will be useful for employers navigating the workplace implications of COVID-19, and those who have questions about obligations under the ADA and other similar laws.