State and Federal Resources to Help Small Business Weather This COVID-19 Storm

Randall Levine & Sharan Lee Levine

On  Monday, March 23, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order (EO 2020-21), directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.

This new order, which took effect on Tuesday, March 24, and continues for at least the next three weeks, does not preclude persons who have the job to help others work remotely at the business.  The members of your staff “whose job it is to facilitate the ability of others to work remotely may carry out their work in person.”

You are required to designate those persons in writing by March 31.

We recommend you do the following:  draft a letter for each essential worker as defined above on your business letterhead.  Give the letter to your worker and ask them to keep the letter on their person when they are traveling to and from your place of business. The individual should always carry their identification; he or she should use the letter only for the purpose of going to and from the place of business.

You should note that the order provides “nothing in this order should be taken to interfere with or infringe on the powers of the legislative and judicial branches to perform their constitutional duties or exercise their authority.”

Additionally, we want to assure our current and prospective clients that we continue to be here for you when the need arises. As we navigate through this pandemic together, know we have the remote capacity with 24/7 phone service directly connecting you with our staff and attorneys for any criminal defense, estate plan, or business matters.

The office staff at Levine & Levine is dedicated to helping you in any way we can, even during this unconventional time. Please check our website and blog posts for updates, news, and information pertaining to matters that may be of interest to you.

Throughout the past 24 hours, our office has been inundated with questions about how this pandemic is affecting employers and employees in Michigan. Below, you’ll find a list of frequently asked questions with useful links to help you and your business whether this COVID-19 storm.

For the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, visit the State of Michigan government website.

We will get through this, together. Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Stay Home.

       — Sharan & Randall Levine, 

           Partners, Levine & Levine Attorneys At Law

What does Michigan’s “stay-at-home” order mean for businesses?

Gov. Whitmer’s latest order means all businesses and operations are prohibited from requiring workers to leave their homes unless those workers are considered “essential” —  necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Workers who are necessary to sustain or protect life include those in health care and public health, law enforcement and public safety, grocery store workers, and more. To see what workers are considered “essential,” click here.

Does this mean I can’t go outside?

No. Michigan residents may go outside for outdoor activities and exercise, like walking your dog or going for a run or bike ride. However, when leaving your home under limited circumstances, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adhering to continued social distancing measures, such as remaining six-feet from people who are not part of your household.

I own and operate a small business in Michigan. Are there resources to help my company through the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. Business clients have been calling and writing us daily, inquiring about available resources for small businesses.  Below are some useful links that may offer some assistance. We will update this blog with additional links as more resources become available.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation issued the Michigan Small Business Relief Program which is offering grants up to $10,000 to cover working capital such as payroll, rent, mortgage payments, and other necessary expenses. More information from the MEDC about business resources during this pandemic can be found here.

Federal Taxes

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service have extended the federal income tax filing to July 15, 2020. This allows all taxpayers to defer tax filings without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations, and other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax.

Federal Paid Leave/Tax Benefits

The U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the U.S. Department of Labor have come together to provide relief to employees and small and midsize businesses. Under the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act, small and midsize employers can take advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. It gives funds to businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members.

State Business Loans and Tax Relief

The Michigan Small Business Association is actively providing updates for business loans, relief from taxes, and other relevant materials.

State Unemployment Benefits

Temporary unemployment benefits have been expanded through April 14.

Business Resources

U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation offers resources for qualifying businesses.

Home Health Care Providers

Home Health Care News is an updated source for those in the health care field.

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