Our office is currently closed, but we continue to provide legal services by working remotely.
In light of Governor Wolf’s emergency declaration and current recommendations our office is currently closed. Our attorneys and staff continue to work remotely, however, and we can assure you they are set up to respond to your calls, emails and all communications. For more details on AMM operations during this time, read our full update.
Thank you for your understanding, and please take care.
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Governor Wolf approved a temporary suspension of the physical presence of notaries for certain real estate transactions on March 25, 2020. The existing law, codified at 57 Pa. C.S. § 306, requires a notary to be physically present when witnessing the executing of documents.
As most of you know, last night the U.S. Senate passed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act”, being referred to as the CARES Act, which is now being sent to the House of Representatives for a final vote. It is expected that the House will pass the measure without further changes, and that it will be signed into law by the President. More details will be provided as we move along, but broadly speaking the CARES Act provides the following benefits and stimulus to U.S. small businesses and individuals:
On March 24, 2020, the United States Department of Labor ("DOL") issued limited guidance regarding the Families First Coronvirus Response Act (the “Act”).
Most importantly, the DOL identified April 1, 2020 as the Effective Date of the Act, contrary to the conclusion of most observers that the Act would go into effect on April 2, 2020. Accordingly, employers of all sizes should plan to come into compliance on April 1, 2020. The DOL also clarified that the Act is not retroactive. The DOL also advises not to send requests for the small business exemption to the department, and that it will issue regulations regarding the small business exemption at a later date.
With individuals residing in Allegheny County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Monroe County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County ordered to stay at home with only certain limited exceptions, and non-life sustaining businesses ordered to close, business owners struggle with what to do next. The full text of the Governor’s order and other related information can be found here. While there are many unanswered questions and additional guidance is continually being issued, business owners do have resources available to them.
In the course of the past few days, we have all been presented with unforeseen challenges as a result of the COVID-19 virus. If you currently have a custody order in place or are going through a custody battle, you might be experiencing parenting issues stemming from the coronavirus outbreak, the recent school closures and work from home mandates.
On Friday, March 20, 2020, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin stated, via Twitter, that the federal government is “moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15,” and that “all taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.” Though the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service have not yet issued any official written pronouncements, Secretary Mnuchin indicated that he was tweeting at the direction of President Trump.
Pennsylvania Business owners have probably heard that Governor Tom Wolf ordered that all "non-life-sustaining" businesses in Pennsylvania must close their physical locations to slow the spread of COVID-19. This order went into effect last evening. You may be wondering whether your business is “life-sustaining” and may stay open. There is little guidance from the Governor’s office, other than the chart published by the Governor.
As the coronavirus pandemic extends its grip across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, its effects are felt throughout the practice of law. The very nature of litigation, the need for witness testimony, advocacy and argument before a tribunal, judge or jury necessarily implicates close personal contact. While measures to preserve the status quo are certainly necessary, the impact on pending litigation as well as potential new litigation, is developing.
On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Protection Act (the “Act”) into law. The Act includes provisions to assist employers and employees during these extraordinary times.
Expansion of Protections Under the Family and Medical Leave Act
For the period of time beginning April 2, 2020 to December 31, 2020, the Act expands the protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Employees may be eligible for a combination of paid and unpaid leave for a period of up to 12 weeks under the FMLA, under certain conditions.
This requirement applies only to employers with fewer than 500 employees. The Act gives the Department of Labor authority to exempt small employers (those with fewer than 50 employees) where the imposition of the Act’s requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. The Department of Labor will use guidance on this procedure. Employers of health care professionals and emergency responders may also elect not to comply.
Eligible employees will receive 2 weeks of unpaid leave and 10 weeks of paid leave. To be eligible for leave, the employee must have been on the employer’s payroll for 30 days. The Act applies where the employee is unable to work or telework to care for a child of an employee if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable, due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The employer has no obligation to pay for the first two weeks, but the employee is free to use paid time off during this period. The employer cannot require the employee to exhaust paid time off. After the first two weeks of unpaid leave, employers must continue paid leave, calculated as two-thirds of the employee’s usual rate of pay. The maximum amount of paid leave under the Act is $200 per day and $10,000 in the aggregate.
Employers must return the employee to the same or equivalent position upon return to work. There is an exception for employers who employ less than 25 employees – if the position no longer exists due to the Covid-19 crisis, the employer must make “reasonable efforts” to restore the employee to an equivalent position over a one-year period.
Two Weeks of Emergency Paid Leave
The Act requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide full-time employees with 2 weeks of paid sick leave, and to provide part-time employees with the equivalent of average hours per week for 2 weeks, if the employee is unable to work or telework because the employee:
- is subject to a quarantine or isolation order;
- has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
- is experiencing symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- is caring for an individual (not limited to family members) who is subject to a quarantine order, has been advised to self- quarantine, or is experiencing symptoms;
- is caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care has been closed or the child care provider is unavailable; or
- is experiencing similar conditions to any specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and the Treasury.
A few limitations apply to this requirement. If the leave is required because the employee is subject to a quarantine order, has been advised to self- quarantine or is experiencing symptoms and seeking a diagnosis, paid leave under this provision shall not exceed $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate Where the leave is necessary to care for another or a child, paid leave under the Act is limited to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate. The Act limits the required payment to two-thirds of an employee's regular rate of pay (subject to the caps) for care of family members.
For this provision, the Department of Labor has substantial authority to issue guidance on which employers may be excluded from this requirement.
This leave is available for immediate use by employees, regardless of length of employment. Employers cannot require employees to exhaust other paid leave before using the paid leave provided by the Act.
Antheil Maslow & MacMinn will continue to provide guidance to employers with regard to the Coronavirus Outbreak on employment, tax and related issues as they develop. Please contact Employment Law partner Patricia Collins or Tax Law partner Michael Mills, with questions.
As our collective understanding of COVID-19’s national (and global) impact continues to develop, many business owners may wonder whether their commercial general liability (CGL) policies can provide coverage against any claims associated with COVID-19, or any other infectious disease.