CertiPay News: COVID-19 Client Update 3/25/2020

Dear Clients, 

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). 

WHEN IT TAKES EFFECT:  APRIL 1, 2020

FFCRA will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee's own health needs or to care for family members. The legislation will ensure that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus while at the same time reimbursing businesses.

The guidance - provided in a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers document - addresses critical questions, such as how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law.

 

CertiPay is closely following the COVID-19 developments and changes on a daily basis.  We are continuing to prepare and provide updates to you as information becomes available. 

For this update, we are providing you with guidance published by the Florida Department of Economic Security and the Georgia Department of Labor as it pertains to filing for unemployment compensation and partial unemployment claims and reemployment services for those who are directly affected by COVID-19. 

Florida Department of Economic Security - Unemployment Developments Regarding Covid-19

On March 17, 2020, Florida published reemployment assistance information for employees negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19. Reemployment Assistance provides temporary wage replacement (unemployment insurance) benefits to eligible individuals who are out of work through no fault of their own.

Individuals that experience any of the below may be eligible for Reemployment Assistance:

  • Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency
  • Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employer due to COVID-19 concerns, or
  • Those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Individuals with a history of wages in Florida, actively able and available to seek and accept new employment and are currently unemployed or work reduced hours through no fault of their own, may be eligible to receive Reemployment Assistance Benefits.

How to File:

Step 1: Individuals access the on-line CONNECT system through floridajobs.org or by calling 1-800-681-8102.

Step 2: Individuals should have the following information on-hand:

  • Social Security Number
  • Driver's License or State ID
  • Your last 18 months of employment (including name, separation reason, earnings and dates of work); a copy of your last paystub will provide important information and can be accessed by logging onto Employee Self-Serve at My.CertiPayOnline.com.
  • Work authorization (if not a US Citizen) 

Step 3: Login to the CONNECT system every two weeks to request benefit payment. The first date to return to CONNECT is provided at the end of the application process. It is important to request benefits even while the claim is being reviewed.

 

Individuals deemed eligible for reemployment assistance will receive payments distributed by direct deposit or through the Way2Go debit card. Debit cards are mailed after the first payment is processed and make take 7 - 10 business days to receive by mail.

Georgia Department of Labor - Partial Unemployment Developments Regarding COVID-19 

An emergency ruling took place on March 17, 2020 mandating employers to electronically file partial claims on behalf of their employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily lay workers off, whenever there is reduced work or no work available for a short period of time. At this point, the GDOL has not expressed what they mean by a short period of time. For these claims filings, employees should not report to the GDOL Career Center. 

Following are instructions published by the GDOL for employers on how to file partial claims online.

Employers are required to file partial claims on behalf of their employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily reduce work hours or there is no work available for a short period. Filing partial claims results in your employees receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefit payments faster, usually within 48 hours for claims filed electronically.  Employees for whom you file a partial claim should not report to a Georgia Department of Labor career center or register for employment services.

Step 1: Register on the Employer Portal to gain Administrator User Access (see the Administrator Guide on the Employer Portal login page and follow the step-by-step instructions.)

1.   Log into the Employer Portal.

2.   Select the employer account number under Registered Account.

3.   Select the File Partial Claims link under Common Links.

4.   Follow the on-screen instructions.

Step 2: Download and print the Partial Claim Application form via the Employer Portal. (You must submit the paper Partial Claim Application to fully complete the process.)

Step 3: Should you have employees that are temporarily laid off due to lack of work, complete (along with your employee) the Partial Claim Application. This form, along with completed required fields in the Employer Portal, will substantiate the filing of a partial claim for your employee. Please keep in mind the following important pieces of information:

  • Employers must file a partial claim for each pay period. This can be accomplished through single claims entry or multi claims upload. A week of partial unemployment consists of an employer's established pay period week. Once a pay period is established, it should remain the same.
  • Accurately report the employee's name, social security number (SSN) and date of birth. They must match Social Security Administration's records.
  • There must be seven (7) days between payment week ending dates.
  • Do not submit claims until after the week ending date on the claim. The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) cannot accept claims filed prior to the week ending date on the claim.
  • Report any vacation pay, holiday pay and/or earnings during the week in which it was earned, not during the week it was paid to the employee.
  • Report any additional income employees are receiving to the GDOL, except Social Security benefits, jury duty income and pay for weekend military reserve duty.

Employees have two options for receiving their UI benefits: direct deposit or the Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard.

  • Employees choosing direct deposit must enter their direct deposit information on the GDOL website by selecting UI Benefit Payments Method under Online Services...Individuals.
  • They can elect to have state and/or federal taxes withheld by GDOL.
  • Unemployment benefits are paid on a weekly basis. All weekly earnings over $50.00 are deducted dollar for dollar from the benefit payment.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is the link to obtain more information from the Georgia Department of Labor?
  • What information should I ask the employee to provide to me when completing the Partial Claim Application?
    • Name
    • Address
    • County of residence
    • Phone #
    • Race
    • Do you want federal income tax deducted from your unemployment payment?
    • Do you want state income tax deducted from your unemployment payment?
  • Does my employee have to sign the Partial Claim Application?
    • No. You can write a statement that states "Information Received by Phone - No Signature Available" (or something similar).
  • Do I submit a partial unemployment claim if the employee is receiving regular salary; paid sick leave; paid vacation or paid family leave?
    • No
  • If my employee was already on an unpaid leave of absence before the partial lay-off, do I file a claim for them?
    • No
  • Do I file a claim for a temporary employee employed by a temporary agency that was working at my place of business?
    • No
  • Do I file a claim in Georgia for my employees that work in other states?
    • No. Employees should be directed to apply for unemployment in the state in which they worked.
  • Do we file a claim each week or each pay period?
    • Weekly
  • Do we file an unemployment claim for employees that take a pay cut?
    • Yes. But the weekly max is $365 per week. If an employee is paid $365 or more by the employer - no additional monies will be paid.
  • How do employees get their payments?
    • The Georgia DOL will send them a debit card called the Georgia Go Card. This will be sent within 2 weeks of the first filing. All monies will be put on this card and the card is active for three years.
  • Is there a different process for me to follow if my employee is not a U.S. Citizen?
    • Yes. File the (DOL-408)form for any employees who are NOT U.S. citizens and fax the completed form to 404.232.3049.

Small Business Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state's or territory's Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.  https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19

Florida has established another loan program, the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan COVID-19. Information for this loan can be accessed at: http://floridajobs.org/rebuildflorida/businessrecovery

We recognize and understand that this is a very difficult time for many of our clients and worksite employees. Please know that our emergency-handling processes allow us to continue supporting you, our valued customer, in Georgia and all across the country. If you need any additional information please reach out to us at CertiPay.

Regards,

CertiPay Team

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