Coronavirus Resources for Small Businesses
LSBA's team of experts is working hard to keep you updated on how the coronavirus impacts your business.
If you need help or have a question about the pandemic and your business, you can email our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(This information was last updated 3/31/21.)
The deadline for small businesses to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan has been extended until May 31, 2021! The program was supposed to end on March 31st, but the deadline has been extended so that more small businesses can apply for either a first or second PPP loan.
The PPP loan program was created to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. And it is not really a loan, because as long as a business spends it on eligible business expenses (like payroll, rent, and utilities) and retains its employees, the PPP does not have to be paid back. No collateral is required to get a PPP loan, and lenders are not allowed to charge small businesses any fees for getting the loan.
Most small businesses, including sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals, are eligible for a PPP loan. And if you received a PPP loan last year, you can receive a second PPP loan if your business has had a drop in revenue.
My business did not receive a PPP loan in 2020. Can I apply for one now?
Yes. Corporations and LLCs are eligible to receive a loan of 2.5 times their average monthly payroll from either 2019 or 2020.
Businesses that file IRS Form 2040, Schedule C, such as sole proprietors, independent contractors, and the self-employed, are eligible for up to $20,833 if they have no employees. With employees, they are also eligible to receive 2.5 times their monthly payroll.
I am a sole proprietor/independent contractor/self-employed and I file my taxes using Form 1040, Schedule C. I was turned down last year for a PPP loan. Am I now eligible for a PPP loan?
Probably. The eligibility criteria for sole proprietors, independent contractors, and the self-employed has changed and now uses gross income from your Schedule C instead of net income. This change allows more Schedule C filers to qualify for a PPP loan.
Note: The new PPP applications for Schedule C filers using gross income are very new, so some banks might not be able to accept these applications yet. But banks should have them available this week. Keep checking with your bank to see when their loan portal will open for Schedule C filers who want to apply for a PPP loan using the new application.
My business got a PPP loan in 2020. Can I now apply for a second PPP?
Yes, your business can receive another PPP of 2.5 times your average monthly payroll from either 2019 or 2020, but you must demonstrate that your business had a 25% reduction in gross revenues from 2019 to 2020. This is calculated by comparing your company’s gross receipts from any one quarter of 2020 to the same quarter of 2019, or you can use your company’s 2020 tax return as compared to the 2019 return. You also must have spent your first PPP loan on eligible expenses.
Where do I apply for a PPP loan (first or second)?
Apply with the bank where your business has its checking account. Your bank will probably have an online portal where you can fill out the loan application and upload your supporting documents (like 941’s to show payroll). If you are not sure how to access your bank’s online portal, call them or visit their website.
What application do I use?
Most banks do not accept paper applications, but their online portals will be very similar to the forms issued by the Small Business Administration. Before applying with your bank, you should review the application you are going to use so you are familiar with the eligibility and documentation requirements. The forms are:
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Loans Under $150,000
The forgiveness process for PPP loans under $150,000 has been simplified. No calculations or supporting documentation are needed. You will just need to fill out Form 3508S and list your loan amount, the number of your employees, and the estimated amount of the PPP loan that your business spent on payroll costs. You are not required to submit any supporting documentation.
Loans Over $150,000
If your business received a PPP loan over $150,000, there are two loan forgiveness applications available. If your business had to lay off employees or reduce employee wages during the pandemic, you will need to use Form 3508.
If your business did not reduce the number of employees or their wages by more than 25%, you can use a simplified application – Form 3508EZ.
Deadline to Apply for Forgiveness (for all PPP Loans)
The deadline to apply for PPP forgiveness is 10 months after the end of your loan’s “covered period.” The covered period is the length of time that you must spend your loan after receiving it.
If you received your PPP loan before June 5, 2020, your loan’s covered period is either 8 weeks or 24 weeks after the date you received your loan, whichever you choose. If you received your PPP loan after June 5, 2020, your loan’s covered period is 24 weeks after the date you received your loan.
If you do not apply for forgiveness within 10 months of the end of your loan’s covered period, your PPP loan will become an actual loan that you will have to pay back with a 1% interest rate for a term of 2 years (if your loan was approved prior to June 5, 2020) or 5 years (if your loan was approved after June 5, 2020).
For more information about PPP loan forgiveness, including all forgiveness applications, visit the Small Business Administration’s website.
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Early in the pandemic, the United States Congress passed a law that required employers to provide two weeks (up to 10 weeks in certain circumstances) of paid leave from work for employees dealing with COVID. This law, called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), expired at the end of 2020. Congress did not choose to renew the paid leave law at the end of 2020, so employers are no longer required to provide paid COVID-related leave under the FFCRA to their employees.
While this COVID-related paid leave is no longer required, employers may voluntarily choose to offer their employees paid COVID-related time off from work and receive tax credits for any paid leave they provide. Employees are still entitled to only 80 hours of leave, so employers cannot take tax credits for leave provided to employees who have already taken their 80 hours of paid leave.
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Governor Edwards has extended the statewide mask mandate in Louisiana. The mask requirement does not apply to customers eating and drinking in a restaurant.
As a service to our members, LSBA has designed a generic mask poster for our members to notify customers and employees that masks or face coverings are required to be worn inside their business.
The Governor’s order requires face coverings for everyone ages 8 and older with a few exceptions. Click here for details.
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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidance for employers that have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 at their workplace. This e-Alert is a summary of the CDC’s information. Details can be found at the CDC’s website.
What should I do if an employee comes to work with COVID-19 symptoms?
Employees who have symptoms when they arrive at work or become sick during the day should immediately be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home. Employees who develop symptoms outside of work should notify their supervisor and stay home.
Sick employees should follow the CDC recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until they have met the criteria to stop home isolation and have consulted with a healthcare provider.
Employers should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or healthcare provider’s note to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.
What should I do if an employee is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19?
In most cases, you do not need to shut down your workplace. But you should close off any areas that the sick person used for prolonged periods of time.
In addition to cleaning and disinfecting, you should determine which employees may have been exposed to the virus and need to take additional precautions:
Employees should not return to work until they have met the criteria to stop home isolation and have consulted with a healthcare provider.
If employees have been exposed but are not showing symptoms, should I allow them to work?
Employees may have been exposed if they have been within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time.
Exposed employees who do not have symptoms should remain at home and practice social distancing for 14 days.
All other employees should self-monitor for symptoms and wear cloth face coverings when in public. If they develop symptoms, they should notify their supervisor and stay home.
What should I do if I find out several days later, after an employee worked, that they were diagnosed with COVID?
If it has been less than 7 days since the sick employee was in the workplace, you should clean and disinfect all areas used by the sick employee following the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
If it has been 7 or more days since the sick employee was in the workplace, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Continue routinely cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces in the workplace.
Other employees may have been exposed if they were in within 6 feet of the sick employee for a prolonged period of time (longer than 15 minutes):
When should an employee suspected or confirmed with having COVID-19 return to work?
Employers do not need to require a sick employee to provide a negative COVID-19 test result or healthcare provider’s note to return to work. Employees with COVID-19 who have stayed home can stop home isolation and return to work when they have met one of the following criteria:
Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms may return to work if:
People who test positive for COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms may return to work if:
They have negative results from at least two consecutive COVID tests done at least 24 hours apart.
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The goal of screening your employees for COVID-19 symptoms is to identify employees who may be sick so you can prevent them from coming to work, which protects your other employees from exposure to the coronavirus. Screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19 is an optional strategy that employers may use; it is not mandatory.
Screening employees is not completely effective at stopping COVID-19 because asymptomatic individuals or individuals with mild non-specific symptoms may not realize they are infected and may pass through screening. Screening is not a replacement for protective measures such as social distancing and face coverings.
If your business decides to screen employees, you can either require employees to self-screen, or you can have an employee conduct the screening. Here is a summary of the CDC recommendations for screening employees:
For self-screening, employees screen themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and should stay home from work if:
*Please note: Symptoms may appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure to the virus and may be mild or severe. This list does not include all possible symptoms.
If you decide to use a member of your staff to screen your employees rather than relying on them to self-screen, consider which symptoms to include in your assessment. Although there are many different symptoms that may be associated with COVID-19 (see partial list above), you may not want to treat every employee with a single non-specific symptom (e.g., a headache) as a suspected case of COVID-19 and send them home.
Consider focusing the screening questions on “new” or “unexpected” symptoms (e.g., a chronic cough would not be a positive screen) such as the following:
Protection of Screeners
Employers can use either social distancing or physical barriers to protect the employee(s) conducting the screening and minimize their contact with an employee who might be contagious.
If screening reveals an employee has symptoms, when can they safely return to work?
The CDC finds that people with mild to moderate COVID-19 stop being infectious 10 days after their symptoms begin, so the CDC guidelines allow people to stop quarantining and return to work if at least 10 days have passed since the employee first started having symptoms and at least 24 hours have passed since they stopped having a fever. People with more severe cases of COVID-19 or who are severely immunocompromised may be contagious up to 20 days after symptom onset, so these employees may need to continue their quarantine for 20 days.
People who test positive for COVID-19 but who never develop symptoms may stop their isolation and other precautions 10 days after the date of their first positive test.
For more information from the CDC about the length of time employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine, click here.
For general guidance for businesses from the CDC, click here.
The CDC has a poster to educate your employees about the symptoms of COVID-19 here.
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Businesses who hire an employee under the age of 18 must get an employment certificate from the minor’s school (or a parent/legal guardian if the student is in home study). Because the schools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) is now issuing blanket Employment Certificates for employers who want to employ school-aged minors.
These Employment Certificates will expire 60 days from the date of issuance. Upon expiration, employers will be required to obtain Employment Certificates as required under Louisiana law.
Employers desiring to obtain an Employment Certificate must submit a completed and signed “Application to Employ Minors under 18” along with proof of age to email@example.com.
The application is available from the LWC at: laworks.net/Downloads/WFD/MinorApplicationToEmployForm.pdf.
Employers will receive an email from the LWC with the names of those minors who are approved to work under the Employment Certificate. This email should be kept on file. Blanket Employment Certificates are not transferrable.
Any questions regarding employment certificates should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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CDC Recommendations for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Workplace
CDC Workplace Considerations for Reopening
OSHA Guidelines on Preparing Your Workplace for Covid-19:
OSHA’s 7 Steps to Wearing a Mask at Work:
OSHA Guidance for Restaurants:
OSHA Guidance for the Construction Industry:
Information from the Internal Revenue Service regarding extended filing deadlines, as well as new Employee Retention Credit to assist employers with their payroll taxes
Guidance on the CARES Act from the US Treasury
Wage and Hour Issues During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Many businesses are being affected by forced closures or alternative operations to stop the spread of COVID-19, which is especially true in the entertainment and dining industry. The US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers face when responding to pandemics or other public health emergencies, and their effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
For Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease
For business Information on Covid 19 from the Louisiana Small Business Development Center
Louisiana Economic Development Launches Business Hotline
Louisiana Economic Development has launched a hotline to answer questions from the state's business community during the Coronavirus crisis. LED staff will be answering the phones and will be ablefield inquiries from businesses and stakeholders from across the state.
The current hotline number is (225) 342-4321. A toll-free hotline number is coming soon. For more information, you can visit LED's COVID-19 webpage.
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