The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill signed into law on March 11, 2021, provides a broad range of assistance to: individuals, including a new round of direct stimulus payments and extended unemployment benefits; federal, state and local government; and businesses. It also provides numerous extensions to aid offered under previous initiatives (such as CARES and FFCRA).
Assistance for businesses includes:
- $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program
- $15 billion for the SBA’s Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program; severely impacted small businesses with fewer than 10 workers will be given priority for some of the funds
- $25 billion for small and mid-sized restaurants
- $1.25 billion for the SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operators grant program
- $175 million to create the Community Navigator Program to increase awareness of COVID-19 relief programs for business owners currently lacking access
Overall, Hawaii will benefit from at least $6.1 billion in estimated funding.
Extensions to aid offered under previous initiatives include:
- Employee retention tax credit has been extended through Dec. 31, 2021
- Employers have the option to extend emergency paid leave through Sept. 30, 2021.
- Emergency paid sick leave (EPSL):
- Qualifying conditions have been expanded to include getting a COVID-19 vaccine, and recovering from adverse reactions to the vaccine.
- A new 10-day bank of EPSL (previously extended through March 31, 2021) will be available for use starting April 1, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2021
- Emergency family and medical leave (EFMLA):
- Qualifying conditions have been expanded to match those for EPSL
- The entire EFMLA period (of up to 12 weeks) may be paid; the unpaid two-week provision has been deleted. The per-employee EFMLA tax credit has been increased to $12,000
- Dependent care exclusion for employer-provided assistance increased from $5,000 to $10,500 for 2021 only
- COBRA subsidies
- Employees who receive or are eligible to receive COBRA coverage from April 1 – Sept. 30, 2021, may receive a 100% subsidy paid by the federal government
- Employees already on COBRA, as well as those who were eligible but declined (retroactive to Nov. 1, 2019), are eligible for subsidies
- Employers may claim tax credits for subsidized COBRA premiums
- Employers must provide timely written election and expiration notices to eligible individuals; model notices and further guidance are expected from USDOL and the IRS