Retailers and small business owners are feeling a huge impact from the pandemic. With financial burdens and uncertainty rising, Jewelers of America is working to gather government-mandated guidance to help you through this tough time into recovery. 

(Updates as of 3/27/2020)

 

Government Action & Support

Federal Stimulus Package

After passing in both the Senate and the House,  President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) on March 27th, 2020. The legislation includes – among other things:

  • Provide one-time payments of $1,200 to most Americans
  • Create a $500 billion lending program for companies, states and cities
  • Provide an additional $367 billion to help small businesses deal with payroll problems that includes six months of loan forbearance.

Jewelers of America's legislative has reviewed the bill and pulled out the most important information about how it will affect your business. Read more here


Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It expands the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on a temporary basis and includes new requirements for paid sick leave. Among the key changes, FMLA expands from covering employers with 50 or more employees to covering those with fewer than 500 employees and lowers the eligibility requirements for paid family and medical leave to any employee who has worked at least 30 days prior to the designated leave. It does, however, include language that allows the Secretary of Labor to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if the required leave would jeopardize the viability of their business.

Changes to paid sick leave include covering up to two weeks for eligible employees (employers with 500 or fewer employees) who take sick leave because they are subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to the virus, are advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine, have symptoms and are seeking medical diagnosis, or are caring for someone who is subject to quarantine or isolation.

In order to offset the burden to small businesses, the Act provides a series of refundable tax credits for employers who are required to provide Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave.

The new requirements for the FMLA and paid sick leave will become effective on April 2 and will remain in effect until December 31, 2020.

Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor has published guidance which can be accessed here.

The DOL is also hosting an online dialogue to provide employers and employees the chance to share their perspective as they develop compliance assistance materials and outreach strategies related to implementation of the Act. DOL is seeking input by March 29. Learn more here


(Updates as of 3/17/2020)

At this point businesses can already take advantage of support including the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Businesses impacted by coronavirus can apply for working capital loans of up to $2 million to help small businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Federal Recommendations

On Monday, March 16, the White House issued guidance focused on slowing the spread of coronavirus through the end of April. Among the recommendations, avoiding social gatherings of more than 10 people and using drive-through, pick-up or delivery options. While the latter was focused on restaurants, jewelers would be wise to explore how they can expand their business toward online and/or clicks-to-bricks that can offer these options.

The CDC and other government entities continue to provide guidance and updates as the situation evolves. You can find a comprehensive listing of government agencies and their responses to the pandemic at USA.gov.

Jewelers can also continue to get information and updates from Coronavirus.gov, an informational clearing house that connects to the CDC, Labor Department and other federal and state resources.

State-by-State Updates

Businesses need to stay up to date not only with what’s happening on the federal level, but more locally as many states have instituted policies that are not currently being practiced nationwide – from closing schools to closing non-essential businesses temporarily. With so much changing day to day (and in some cases hour to hour) it is critical to stay informed about the latest directives from State Health Departments.

Resources include State Updates from the National Retail Federation, searching for info on your state’s health department here and the National Governor’s Association guidance, Coronavirus: What You Need to Know.
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