Businesses & Employees

Shelter in Place Order’s Effects On Workers and Businesses

Contra Costa and Alameda Counties have all residents to shelter in place and stay away from others until January 4th. The announcement is a bold step towards slowing down the spread of Covid-19 and it is imperative we take action now to self-isolate and keep our community safe. Residents should only leave their homes for essential reasons. Read more about the order here

  • Essential business includes: grocery stores at 35% capacity, pharmacies, certain retail at 20% capacity, gas stations and hospitals, as well as public transportation including BART will remain open. Restaurants will remain open, but only for takeout and delivery.
  • Non-essential business All non-essential gatherings of any size are now banned, along with any non-essential travel.
  • Essential/Non-Essential Workers: Everyone is being asked to work from home or stop work unless their work is an essential service such as healthcare workers, public safety, utility providers and sanitation workers. Day care centers may remain open (with certain restrictions).

Contra Costa County has provided a Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet on its webpage and opened a hotline for those with questions about the order: 1-844-729-8410

Contra Costa has opened a small business hotline to help businesses navigate state/federal/local resources available to help them through the pandemic. Call 1-833-320-1919 M-F 8:30-5:00.

Unemployment Benefits for Workers:

Additional $300 per week -- A new federal unemployment insurance payment of an additional $300 per week will be paid to all workers receiving unemployment benefits.  This extra $300 will start after Dec. 26, 2020 and end on March 14, 2021.  (The Cares Act provision that previously provided an additional $600 per week for 13 weeks concluded last July.) 

PUA Extended -- The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) relief program, which was scheduled to expire on Dec. 26, has been extended to March 14, 2021.  The total number of weeks of PUA benefits an individual may receive has been increased from 39 to 50 weeks.

PEUC Extended -- The federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) relief program, which was scheduled to expire on Dec. 26, has been extended to March 14, 2021.  The total  number of weeks of PEUC benefits an individual may claim has been increased from 13 to 24 weeks.

The maximum number of weeks of unemployment benefits that an individual may claim through a combination of (a) regular state unemployment and/or (b) the federal PEUC extension program and/or (c) the PUA program, has been increased to 50 weeks in total.

New “Mixed Earner” Benefit -- an additional benefit of $100 per week will be paid to eligible workers who have at least $5,000 per year in self-employment income, but who are disqualified from receiving PUA benefits because they are eligible for regular state unemployment benefits.  This benefit will end on March 14.

New Federal Stimulus Payments of $600 per person, dependent on annual income: 

New Economic Impact Payments of $600 will be paid by the federal government to individuals earning up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 per year, as well as a $600 payment for each dependent child.   A family of four will receive $2,400 in payments.  (Please note that these federal payments will be automatic and do not require an application.)

New Business Relief Provided in Federal Relief Package:   

The new law provides more than $284 billion for businesses and reinstates the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which expired last summer, until March 31, 2021.  It includes these significant provisions, among many other changes:

New funding is provided for forgivable 1st and 2nd PPP loans to businesses, so that smaller and hard-hit businesses can apply for a “2nd draw” loan.  Publicly traded

companies are not eligible for the new loans.  The bill expands the list of expenses that a PPP loan may be used to pay, such as expenditures for PPE.

New EIDL grants for eligible businesses in low-income communities.

Continued SBA debt relief payments.

Expanded funding for SBA lending.

New dedicated $15 billion SBA grant program for eligible closed live venues, movie theaters, and cultural institutions such as museums and live theaters.

New California Small Business Relief

California recently announced new support for California small business through hiring tax credits, automatic sales tax extensions, and access to capital.

"Main" Street" Small Business Hiring Tax Credit

Starting today, qualified small businesses adversely impacted by Covid-19 can reserve tax credits for hiring full-time employees. There are a limited number of credits available - so be sure to apply today.

To qualify for the credit, taxpayers (employers) must:

  • Have 100 or fewer employees on December 31, 2019 (all employees, including part-time employees).
  • Have experienced a 50% decrease in gross receipts from April to June 2020, compared to the gross receipts in April to June 2020, compared to gross receipts in April to June 2019.
  • Apply for a tentative credit reservation from CDTFA between December 1, 2020 through January 15, 2021.

Click here for more information and to apply for your credit.

Sales Tax Relief

There is also an automatic three-month extension for taxpayers filing less than $1 million in sales tax, an extension of existing interest and penalty-free payment agreements to companies with up to $5 million in taxable sales, expanded interest-free payment options for larger business particularly affected by significant restrictions on operations based on Covid-19 transmissions.

For more information, click here.

Access to Capital & Technical Assistance

The California Rebuilding Fund is now taking loan applications to support California small businesses - especially those located in economic disadvantaged and historically under-banked areas. Businesses with 50 employees or less and revenues less than $2.5 million or below in 2019 are eligible to apply.

For information to apply, click here.

Unemployment Insurance

The federal Covid-19 relief package passed in March expands unemployment insurance benefits by 13 weeks and includes a four-month enhancement of benefits. Those eligible will receive an additional $600 per week from the federal government, in addition to any CA unemployment insurance benefits they receive through July 25th, 2020. If you are experiencing difficulty with getting your Unemployment benefits, please fill out this form and a member of my staff will be in touch to connect you to assistance.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program: This is a newly available emergency unemployment assistance program under the federal CARES Act. PUA provides assistance for unemployed or partially unemployed individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance and who are unable or unavailable to work due to COVID-19 related circumstances. Covered individuals include: Independent contractors, self-employed, those without sufficient work history, those who have exhausted their regualr UI benefits. PUA is currently sent to expire on 12/26/20.  

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

Usually, you can only collect up to 26 weeks of regular state Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits within a 12-month benefit year. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides an additional 13 weeks of payments if you’ve used all of your available UI benefits. This program is set to expire on 12/26/20. To qualify for a PEUC extension, you must:

  • Be fully or partially unemployed March 29, 2020, or after.
  • Have used all benefits on your claim that started July 8, 2018, or after.
  • Not qualify for a regular UI claim in California or any other state.
  • Meet all UI eligibility requirements.

Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order which waives the one-week waiting period for people who are unemployed and/or disabled as a result of COVID-19.

The California Employment Development Department announced support services to individuals affected by COVID-19 in California who are unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19. Individuals who are unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 can file a Disability Insurance claim. Californians who are unable to work because they are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 can file a Paid Family Leave claim.

The State of California has launched Onward CA a one-stop resource for people impacted by job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage you to see what opportunities might be available to you!

Work Sharing Program

Employers experiencing a slowdown in their businesses or services because of the coronavirus impact on the economy may apply for the UI Work Sharing Program. This program allows employers to seek an alternative to layoffs — retaining their trained employees by reducing their hours and wages that can be partially offset with UI benefits. Workers of employers who are approved to participate in the Work Sharing Program receive the percentage of their weekly UI benefit amount based on the percentage of hours and wages reduced, not to exceed 60 percent.

Visit the EDD’s Work Sharing Program website to learn more about its benefits for employers and employees, and how to apply.

Worker Safety Guidance

The California Labor Commissioner has provided a comprehensive website for resources related to COVID-19.

The California Department of Industrial Relations has provided guidance on requirements on how to protect workers.

Small Business Loan Programs

Federal Government Small Business Relief

The Federal Government, through the CARES Stimulus Bills, has made money available to small business through SBA grants, loans, credits, and deferred taxes. The stimulus bill includes but is not limited to: SBA forgivable loans up to $10,000,000, SBA emergency grants up to $10,000, retirement withdrawals without penalty up to $100,000, SBA disaster loans up to $2,000,000, employee retention credits up to $10,000/employee, and some deferred taxes. See the below links for details and remember to contact your lender:

SBA Disaster Loan

SBA Forgivable Payroll Loan

SBA Local Assistance

Small Business Administration Information

Contra Costa County and Alameda County have both been approved by the federal government for U.S. Small Business Administration loans .

  • Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications by visiting their website.
  • Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

Visit the Alameda County Small Business Development Center website

Visit the Contra Costa County Small Business Development Center website

The California State Treasurer has also compiled a comprehensive list of resources for small businesses.

Local Chambers of Commerce Resources

Questions about Insurance

For businesses or consumers with insurance-related questions, the CA Department of Insurance’s consumer hotline at 1-800-927-4357 continues to be available from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM to help California consumers and businesses with their urgent insurance issues and answer questions you may have.

The Department’s new site is being updated continually: http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/140-catastrophes/Coronavirus.cfm

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