RESOURCES FOR VIRGINIANS OUT OF WORK OR OUT OF BUSINESS DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Resources for EMPLOYEES experiencing loss of work related to COVID-19:
- Unemployment: In Virginia, the Governor has waived the one-week waiting period for out-of-work employees to access state unemployment funds. A worker may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if they have been laid off or experienced a reduction in hours because:
- their employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19;
- the worker has been issued a notice to self-quarantine by a medical or public health official and is not receiving paid sick or medical leave from their employer; or
- the worker must stay home to care for an ill family member and are not receiving paid family medical leave from their employer.
Although 1099 independent contractors and self-employed individuals generally are not currently eligible for unemployment benefits, on March 23, 2020 Governor Northam announced that he is considering expanding the benefit to include those groups.
When filing your claim for unemployment benefits, please be sure to check the reason for separation as Lack of Work/Lay off. If you will be filing because of a reduction in hours, you will not receive benefits unless your gross earnings are less than your weekly benefit amount. Currently the maximum weekly benefit amount in Virginia is $378.
You may file a claim for unemployment insurance through the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) by clicking www.vec.virginia.gov to file a new claim for unemployment benefits online, or through the VEC Customer Contact Center by calling 1-866-832-2363 Monday through Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm.
Once qualified for and receiving unemployment benefits, receiving unemployment insurance, workers affected by COVID-19 are to receive special consideration from the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) on deadlines, mandatory re-employment appointments, and work search requirements.
For more information, Governor Northam’s office has issued FAQs from Workers Regarding COVID-19:
- Families First COVID-19 Response Act (FFCRA): Beginning April 2, if an employee is unable to work (i.e. there is work available but the employee cannot report to work) for certain circumstances related to COVID-19, they may be eligible for:
- Up to two weeks of sick leave (full pay for self, 2/3 pay for family care) for illness, quarantine, or school closures; and
- Up to 12 weeks of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for school closures (10 days unpaid and then up to 10 weeks at 2/3 pay)
Employers will be able to immediately reimburse themselves dollar-for-dollar for such expenditures by retaining an amount of their payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and child-care leave that they paid, rather than deposit those amounts with the IRS. There is a 30-day grace period to allow employers time to make good faith efforts to implement these benefits. Employers with less than 50 employees will be eligible for an exemption from the leave requirements relating to school closings or childcare unavailability where the requirements would jeopardize the ability of the business to continue.
More detailed information regarding FFCRA benefits for employees and reimbursement for employers may be found at https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/osec/osec20200320.
Resources for EMPLOYERS experiencing economic loss or closure related to COVID-19:
- Unemployment Tax Relief: Employers who slow or cease operations due to COVID-19 will not be financially penalized for an increase in workers requesting unemployment benefits.
- Small Business Loans: Virginia has officially received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Small businesses and non-profits located throughout the state can now apply for a loan of up to $2 million from the SBA to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other expenses. To submit a loan application for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, please visit: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Resources for ALL experiencing economic loss related to COIVD-19:
- Postponed federal tax deadlines: The IRS has postponed the filing and payment deadline for individual and corporate tax returns until July 15th without interest or penalties.
- Postponed state tax deadlines: The Virginia Department of Taxation is extending the due date of payment of Virginia individuals and corporate income taxes. While filing deadlines remain the same, the due date for individual and corporate income tax will now be June 1, 2020. Please note that interest will still accrue, so taxpayers who are able to pay by the original deadlines should do so. More information on deferring payment and how to file can be found here: www.tax.virginia.gov. *States are experiencing significant pressure to extend filing and payment deadlines to match the new federal deadline of July 15; watch for updates*
- Mortgage foreclosure delays: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have directed mortgage servicers to halt all new foreclosure actions and suspend those already in progress. The HUD order applies to single-family homeowners who are unable to pay their Federal Housing Administration-backed mortgages. It also applies to loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which covers about half of the country’s mortgages. The moratoriums will last until mid-May, but could be extended, according to regulators. About 5 million homeowners are not covered by the HUD or FHFA plans, so the servicers of these mortgages don’t have to comply with the federal plans, but are expected to comply with the moratorium anyway, and many have already set up mortgage relief programs. Borrowers must apply for mortgage relief through their mortgage servicer. The servicer will decide whether the borrower qualifies for the assistance and how they would repay the missed payments. In many cases, the missed payments are tacked on to the end of a mortgage but servicers sometimes ask for a lump-sum payment. Most people in these forbearance programs won’t have to make another mortgage payment until May 2021.
- Eviction delays: The Supreme Court of Virginia has granted a judicial emergency in response to COVID-19 and includes a prohibition on new eviction cases for tenants who are unable to pay rent as a result of COVID-19 which will extend at least through April 6.
- Utility relief: Virginia has suspended service disconnections for electric, natural gas, and water companies for 60 days to provide immediate relief for any customer, residential and business, who may be financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
- DMV deadline delays: All Virginia DMV locations are closed until at least April 2. If you license or ID card expires before May 15, you will have an additional 60 days to renew. On March 19th, Governor Northam also directed the Virginia Department of State Police to suspend enforcement of Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections for 60 days.
- United Way COVID-19 Response: The United Way of South Hampton Roads has established a COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund to connect people in need with resources, with a specific focus on: hourly workers and/or those without medical benefits and/or paid leave; low-income families with children; workers whose employment or income is significantly jeopardized by the economic slowdown; and homebound seniors who rely on nonprofit services for health and well-being. Go to their web page and click “get help now” (https://unitedwayshr.org/coronavirus/) or call (757) 858-7777. The organization also has information related to all community resources available: http://www.ghrconnects.org/tiles/index/display?alias=COVID19.
- Food Bank COVID-19 Response: The Food Bank of Southeast Virginia And the Eastern Shore has created a COVID-19 website to publish distributions sites and connect those experiencing food insecurity with resources. Click on their website and enter your zip code for assistance: https://foodbankonline.org/covid-19/. You can also text “food” or “comida” to 877- 8777.