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Update: President Trump Signs Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020

Update: Today President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 ("FA"). The House passed the law on May 27 and the Senate approved on June 3. The legislation provides more flexibility to small businesses who received loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).

Maturity of PPP Loans

To start, the FA establishes that all PPP loans granted after the enactment of the FA will carry a 5-year minimum maturity term. For already existing loans, the FA allows for lenders and borrowers to mutually agree to modify the 2-year maturity term of the existing loan and implement the new 5-year minimum.

Extended Covered Period

Further, the FA extends the deadline to apply for a PPP loan to December 31, 2020. The covered period for which PPP loan recipients may spend the loan is also extended. Originally, small businesses had 8 weeks to spend the PPP loan money. Under the FA, small businesses may spend the PPP loan money during a 24-week period or until December 31, 2020, whichever occurs first. A business that has received a loan prior to the enactment of the FA may elect to spend their loan within the 8-week spending period that coincides with origination of their loan or extend it through the new 24-week covered period.

Payroll vs Nonpayroll Uses

Prior to the FA, recipients of a PPP loan were required to use 75% or more of the loan on payroll expenses in order to be eligible for loan forgiveness. The FA reduces that amount and requires recipients to spend at least 60% of the loan amount on payroll expenses in order to be eligible for loan forgiveness. This allows a recipient of a PPP loan to use up to 40% of the loan amount on non-payroll expenses like mortgage, rent, and utility payments.

Full-Time Equivalent Safe Harbor

The PPP requires loan recipients to restore its full-time employee count or employee wages to its February 15, 2020 level by June 30, 2020 in order to receive the full amount of loan forgiveness. Because many businesses are still facing difficulties in restoring operations to their February 15, 2020 levels, the FA extended the date to restore the loan recipient’s full-time employee count or employee wages to December 31, 2020.

Further, the FA provides a new exemption from a proportional reduction of loan forgiveness due to a reduction in full-time employees. This exemption is conditioned on the PPP loan recipient documenting, in good faith, one of the following two findings. First, a loan recipient can document an inability to rehire individuals who were employees on February 15, 2020 and document an inability to hire similarly qualified employees for unfilled positions by December 31, 2020. Second, a loan recipient can document:

“an inability to return to the same level of business activity as such business was operating at before February 15, 2020, due to compliance with requirements established or guidance issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during the period beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending December 31, 2020, related to the maintenance of standards for sanitation, social distancing, or any other worker or customer safety requirement related to COVID–19.”

Extended Deferral Period

Under the initial CARES Act, a deferral period of not less than six months and no more than one year was allowed for loan payments of principal and interest. Under the FA, the deferral of payments of principle and interest extends until the lender receives the total forgiveness amount of the loan, which is determined by the CARES Act. Additionally, if a PPP loan recipient fails to apply for forgiveness of the loan, then the recipient must begin payments of interest and principle within 10 months of the end of the newly established 24-week covered period.

It is anticipated that President Trump will sign the FA into law but, until then, the CARES Act and the PPP remain in effect leaving the above-mentioned changes unimplemented.

For questions regarding the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, please contact your primary BMD attorney.

The Masks Are Back: New OSHA Regulations for Healthcare Employers

Employment Law After Hours is back with a News Break Episode. Yesterday, OSHA published new rules for healthcare facilities, including hospitals, home health employers, nursing homes, ambulance companies, and assisted living facilities. These new rules are very cumbersome, requiring mask wearing for all employees, even those that are vaccinated. The only exception is for fully vaccinated employees (2 weeks post final dose) who are in a "well-defined" area where there is no reasonable expectation that any person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 will be present.

New OSHA Guidance for Workplaces Not Covered by the Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard

On June 10, 2021, OSHA issued an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for occupational exposure to COVID-19, but it applies only to healthcare and healthcare support service workers. For a detailed summary of the ETS applicable to the healthcare industry, please visit https://youtu.be/vPyXmKwOzsk. All employers not subject to the ETS should review OSHA’s contemporaneously released, updated Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace. The new Guidance essentially leaves intact OSHA’s earlier guidance, but only for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers (“at-risk” meaning vaccinated or unvaccinated workers with immunocompromising conditions). For fully vaccinated workers, OSHA defers to CDC Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People, which advises that most fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, or local laws or individual business policies.

Employer Liability for COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

As employers encourage or require employees to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, they should be aware of OSHA recording obligations and potential workers’ compensation liability. Though OSHA has yet to revise its COVID-19 guidance in response to the latest CDC recommendations, OSHA has revised its position regarding the recording of injury or illness resulting from the vaccine. Until now, OSHA required an employer to record an adverse reaction when the vaccine was required for employees and the injury or illness otherwise met the recording criteria (work-related, a new case, and meets one or more of the general recording criteria). OSHA has reversed course and announced that it will not require recording adverse reactions until at least May 2022, irrespective of whether the employer requires the vaccine as a condition of employment. In its revised COVID-19 FAQs, OSHA states:

The New Rule 1.510 - Radical Change for Summary Judgement Procedure in Florida

In civil litigation, where both sides participate actively, trial is usually required at the end of a long, expensive case to determine a winner and a loser. In federal and most state courts, however, there are a few procedural shortcuts by which parties can seek to prevail in advance of trial, saving time, money and annoyance. The most common of these is the “motion for summary judgment”: a request to the court by one side for judgment before trial, generally on the basis that the evidence available reflects that a win for that party is legally inevitable and thus required. Effective May 1, 2021, summary judgment procedure in Florida has radically changed.

Vacating, Modifying or Correcting an Arbitration Award Under R.C. 2711.13: Three-Month Limitation Maximum; Not Guaranteed Amount of Time

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that neither R.C. 2711.09 nor R.C. 2711.13 requires a court to wait three months after an arbitration award is issued before confirming the award. R.C. 2711.13 provides that “after an award in an arbitration proceeding is made, any party to the arbitration may file a motion in the court of common pleas for an order vacating, modifying, or correcting the award.” Any such motion to vacate, modify, or correct an award “must be served upon the adverse party or his attorney within three months after the award is delivered to the parties in interest.” In BST Ohio Corporation et al. v. Wolgang, the Court held the three-month period set forth in R.C. 2711.13 is not a guaranteed time period in which to file a motion to vacate, modify, or correct an arbitration award. 2021-Ohio-1785.