Editor’s note: Regulations and guidance from the SBA and the U.S. Department of Treasury on the PPP are evolving rapidly. Please refer to the latest guidance from SBA and Treasury to confirm current program rules and how they apply to your particular situation.
If you’ve laid off employees due to the coronavirus between February 15, 2020, and June 30, 2020, you may still qualify for a forgivable loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) if you meet certain requirements. Additionally, if you return employees and wages to their pre-February 15, 2020 levels before December 31, 2020, you may avoid having any loan forgiveness reduced.
The Paycheck Protection Program is part of the larger government stimulus package. Loans through the Paycheck Protection Program are meant to minimize the number of unemployed persons by helping eligible business and organization owners cover payroll costs and certain operating expenses.
If borrowers meet certain requirements, their loans may be forgivable, in whole or in part. One of those requirements has to do with rehiring employees who’ve been laid off. Here are a few things you’ll want to know if you’ve laid off employees recently as a result of COVID-19.
How your PPP loan forgiveness may be affected
Your potential loan forgiveness may be reduced if the average weekly number of full-time equivalent employees you employ during your Loan Forgiveness Covered Period (or, if applicable, your Alternative Payroll Covered Period) is less than the average weekly number of full-time equivalent employees between one of the following reference periods:
- February 15, 2019 and June 30, 2019, or
- January 1, 2020 and February 29, 2020
Most businesses can select which lookback period they prefer to use for the comparison, but seasonal businesses have to use February 15, 2019, to June 30, 2019.
The amount of loan forgiveness will not be reduced based on a reduction in employees between February 15 and April 26, 2020, if the reduction is reversed by the date you submit your application for loan forgiveness or December 31, 2020, whichever comes first.
Additionally, your forgiveness amount will not be reduced based on headcount reductions if your business was unable to operate between February 15, 2020, and the end of the covered period at the same level as before February 1, 2020 due to compliance with certain federal requirements or guidance related to COVID-19.
4 tips for rehiring employees by June 30
- Communicate as much as possible. You might not know what will happen after your PPP funds run out, and that’s OK. You may find your employees would rather their employer be transparent, even if they don’t have all the answers.
- Accommodate health restrictions. If an employee is ill or caring for a family member who is ill, you can still rehire them. Just be flexible with their time until they can come back in good health. If an employee is concerned about contracting COVID-19 at work, consider alternative work arrangements. You may also allow the employee to go negative on their sick time.
- Continue to observe city and state mandates. If your city or state has enacted a shelter-in-place order, you might be wondering where and how your employees will work. If you can, explore creative solutions that involve working from home. It may be advisable to allow employees to use sick leave and other paid time off if remote work is not possible.
- Consult the experts. If you’re hoping to apply for loan forgiveness, it might help to talk to your lender, HR personnel, or an employment law expert. Find out if you need any specific forms or paperwork when rehiring employees.
The resources described above are made available to businesses within the United States of America.
COVID-19 relief programs are evolving regularly. Please visit SBA.gov for the most up to date information.
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Given the large demand for limited SBA authorized funding, not every qualified Paycheck Protection Program applicant will receive a loan.