The Most Common Questions I Received Last Week
May 11, 2020
What a mess! Last Friday, I shared the discussions around re-opening, SBA PPP scrutiny and the continued PUA challenges. (If you missed it, you’ll want to check it out as I gave some context to these topics.) As I stated, the combination of so much being unknown and every individual or business party’s situation being so specific and unique, it would be impossible to sort this all out for you – although I really wish I could. Below are a handful of the most common questions I received last week and some general answers.
1. If my business is cleared to re-open, what do I do if my staff doesn’t want to return?
You guys know what’s coming… it depends. It may mean that they are no longer unemployment benefit eligible; it may mean you need to search for replacements to keep PPP funding options; for others it may mean the FFCRA that many businesses ignored as soon as things shut down has to be reexamined. Taking the time to thoughtfully review your operations, your financial situations, and discussing your employee’s concerns in the context of all these laws and regulations before finalizing a decision is the most prudent way a business can proceed.
2. Can my Employer force me to return to work?
No. No one can “force” you to do anything. However, if work is available and you prefer to not return, will you be precluded from collecting unemployment? Perhaps. Ordinarily, the answer would be “yes” 98% of the time. But, with school closures, and continued COVID-19 health concerns and directives in place, for some the answer may be “no,” at least for a portion of time. Employees should carefully review concerns with their employers and spend time with the unemployment guidelines, which get updated frequently.
3. Can an individual receive both PPP funds and PUA benefits?
Yes, in theory, they can. While the PPP was designed to keep individuals off unemployment, the total amount of funds that are available to an individual through each program, how they are counted against each other, and the timing of the funds creates situations – for some – in which a combination of these benefits can be retained by a single individual.
4. I received PPP funding, I understand the rules, I’ve run the numbers and they don’t add up. What do I do?
This one left me scratching my head personally, and that was after I spent hours pouring over regulations, guidelines, spreadsheets, and calculations. So I can’t even imagine what some of you business owners are going through. At the end of the day, many small businesses – particularly soleprenuers – may find out that the amount of their PPP funds they can use simply won’t add up to the total amount of funds received. A good problem to have? Perhaps. For some, it may simply mean this excess creates a portion of the loan that simply can’t be forgiven. For others, it creates an excess that they may need to return to the SBA to avoid any allegations of “misuse.”
5. Can the SBA look at my books and penalize me if I didn’t really need a PPP loan?
Yes. Although we are still waiting on guidance from the SBA on this, businesses should be aware this threat is out there. While “need” must be better defined, businesses are wise to look closely at what they consider to be their needs and document any usage.
6. If I finally get PUA funding, what do I have to show DWD to get the money?
I so wish I could answer this one. It is beyond frustrating. Without meaning to sound trite, hang in there. Take a deep breath and start documenting everything you can fiscally about your business as if you were preparing to take a final exam. Copies of tax records, bank statements, P/L statements, A/R statements, records of usual historic business activity, explanations of how your revenue is generated, when you saw the economic impact first hit, what you did to try and recover. Get it all ready so that when they come to you, you have it prepared. And check back here. I will update you as I can.
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