Our Shared Sector: 7 Ways Your Nonprofit Can Make Virtual Meetings More Inclusive

By YW Boston

MNNMay2020OurSharedSectorYWBoston-min

In the midst of a crisis, continuing to foster an inclusive workplace is as important as ever. Nonprofits know that COVID-19 is impacting communities in different ways. As some organizations continue to work remotely, leaders and managers must ensure that they support staff of all identities. Here are some best practices for supporting staff and practicing inclusivity in a virtual landscape.

  1. Acknowledge and address the diverse challenges of working remotely and during a crisis.

Let people know you are aware that individuals’ experiences vary during this time. The ability to work remotely in a comfortable space is a privilege not everyone has. People may not have the technology for regular video conferencing. Living situations also vary by individual: many people live with roommates or are balancing work with caring for others. Give people advance notice if there is an expectation for them to participate via video, and send a follow-up email with action items.

  1. Explicitly incorporate an inclusion lens and remain mindful of bias.

Begin meetings with a focused statement that centers DE&I and your organization’s mission. Recognize that microaggressions can still occur virtually, and encourage people to reach out to you or to colleagues for support if they run into barriers to full participation. Setting a precedent of open communication around decision-making can also go a long way in empowering employees. Before announcing a policy change, emphasize that your organization is seeking solutions that do not cause disparate impact and that team members should weigh in with their feedback. Provide private ways for employees to submit feedback, in order to mitigate the risk of making anyone feel like their needs and concerns are being exposed.

  1. Offer micro-affirmations.

Managers can help counteract feelings of isolation among those they manage, especially employees who hold marginalized identities. Micro-affirmations include recognizing the achievements of others, taking a professional interest in staff, and asking for others’ opinions. These small gestures can often be overlooked during times of crisis.

  1. Leverage technology + structured participation to capture diverse viewpoints.

Without the ability to see body language, people with marginalized identities may find it even harder to jump into a discussion. Incorporate different participation strategies, such as a round-robin, that give everyone the opportunity to speak. Emphasize that you want to hear input from everyone. Use technology tools—such as chat rooms, polling, and other in-app nonverbal feedback functions—to get input on ideas.

  1. Delegate responsibilities.

Prioritizing inclusion can be more challenging when simultaneously managing technology. Consider holding meetings with a co-host. By sharing the work, you can focus on facilitating and noticing which individuals the team has not heard from.

  1. Take advantage of supervisory meetings.

Managers have opportunities to build their inclusive practices during 1-on-1 meetings. Ask open-ended questions to learn about specific concerns and listen for challenges related to employees’ physical workspace, feelings of isolation, or changes in mood and appearance. Work with each employee to ensure they have what they need to feel good about their work. As a manager, you can use these learnings to advocate for all staff members to ensure everyone receives necessary support. Your organization’s leadership should observe common themes in order to implement new policies and practices.

About YW Boston 

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed. 

Nonprofit 411: Strategic Planning…Now?

Nonprofit 411 Pear Associates-min-minBy Alison Glisten Gray, Pear Associates

When COVID-19 entered our lives, many of us reacted with panic and uncertainty. Immediately, nonprofit organizations were faced with some big questions: How will this shift from the business-as-usual impact our clients, our employees, our donors? Will we still be able to deliver quality programs and services? How will this impact our bottom line? All of these are legitimate questions nonprofits are asking themselves, and the answers have resulted in a significant shift in the way many organizations are now operating and delivering services.

I would suggest this is also the time to consider some new questions: what can we learn about how we develop and deliver services? How can this situation make us more efficient and more effective? Can we be more strategic about the ways we meet our greatest community needs?

Right before the COVID-19 pandemic, I worked with English at Large of Woburn to create a strategic plan. According to Maureen Willis, Executive Director, “this helped put us in a position of strength as we plan for the impact of the pandemic. The process brought clarity to our strengths and priorities and gave us a strong vision for what we want to achieve in the future.”

Perhaps the idea of embarking on a strategic planning process amid such ambiguity about our economic and social future seems futile. However, this may just be the perfect time to prioritize how your organization will have the greatest impact. As my client, Lara Quiroga, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Children at Amoskeag Health in Manchester, NH, says “now is the right time to focus on strategic planning, for both the short and long-term…this has helped provide clarity on the work that needs to happen, especially during a time of crisis when it’s difficult to focus on the future and easy to mission-drift.”

For those who have strategic plans in place, I encourage you to review your goals and objectives for the coming year and make the changes now to reflect how you want to deliver quality services after the crisis is over. If you are considering embarking on a planning process, I suggest you revisit the mission and vision of your organization and let that guide your future. Use this time to explore how you can innovate and be creative as you respond to the current landscape and changing future. Working with your Board and staff to create a clear path forward could be one positive outcome for your organization in this challenging time.

At the beginning of 2020, before COVID was part of our daily vocabulary, I worked with the National Ice Cream Retailers Association (NICRA) to create a 12-month action plan while they were experiencing incredible growth. NICRA’s Executive Director, Steve Christensen, asserts, “having a plan… allowed us to continue on our planned path without being distracted by media reports and many other influences.”

He also shares, “COVID-19 took us off our strategic plan highway a little, but we knew exactly how to get back in on the on-ramp to pick up where we left off.” 

With some thoughtful planning, your organization can also be successful in staying on track to meet community needs while adjusting to unexpected change.

 

Nonprofit 411: Emergency Law Provides Governance Flexibility for Massachusetts Nonprofits

Nonprofit 411 Hemenway & Barnes-min-min-minBy Brad Bedingfield and Eleanor Evans, Hemenway & Barnes

On April 3, 2020, Governor Baker signed Chapter 53 of the Acts of 2020, which includes an emergency provision (Section 16) intended to make it easier for nonprofits incorporated in Massachusetts to function remotely during the COVID-19 crisis. During the governor’s state of emergency (declared on March 10, 2020) and for 60 days thereafter, a nonprofit board may take certain actions regardless of what the nonprofit’s bylaws may say, so long as the nonprofit’s Articles of Organization do not expressly forbid it. Specifically, the board may:

Service of Directors and Officers:

  • Allow directors and officers to continue to serve beyond their designated terms during the state of emergency and until their successors are elected and take office.
  • Appoint successors to any officers or directors (as well as employees or agents), even if the bylaws do not otherwise provide for that.

Board Meetings:

  • Provide notice of board meetings in whatever manner is practicable under the circumstances, and to whichever directors it is practicable to reach.
  • Allow directors to participate in board meetings through the use of any means of communication by which all directors participating are able to communicate simultaneously, even if they cannot all hear each other simultaneously. Directors who participate in a board meeting held according to Section 16 are deemed to constitute a quorum, regardless of what the bylaws say.

Member Meetings:

  • Cancel a meeting of the members with notice given in any practicable manner.
  • Permit members to vote in person or by proxy, even if the bylaws do not allow proxy voting. Any member voting by proxy shall be considered present for purposes of meeting a quorum.
  • Allow members to participate in a members’ meeting by remote participation, even if not physically present at the meeting. Members will be treated as present for a remote meeting if:
    • Reasonable measures are implemented to verify that each participant is in fact a member (or the holder of a valid proxy);
    • Members are given a reasonable opportunity to participate in the meeting and to vote on matters submitted, including an opportunity to read or hear the proceedings of the meeting substantially currently with such proceedings, pose questions, and make comments, regardless of whether the members can simultaneously communicate with each other; and
    • Votes or other actions taken remotely are adequately documented and records retained.

To Note:

  • Boards Must Authorize Actions – This new law does not automatically provide this flexibility, but instead authorizes the board to permit it. Thus, for example, if the members of a nonprofit want to meet remotely, the board must first authorize that pursuant to Section 16 of Chapter 53 of the Acts of 2020. A nonprofit corporation with members must notify the members, as soon as reasonably practicable, of any actions taken by the board under Section 16.
  • Check the Articles of Organization – While Section 16 allows a board to override (temporarily) a nonprofit’s current bylaws, it does not allow a board to override the nonprofit’s Articles of Organization. Accordingly, it is important to confirm that nothing in the Articles would prevent what the board is seeking to authorize under Section 16.
  • Limited Time – The board may take the actions described above only during the current state of emergency and 60 days thereafter. If the board and/or the members are concerned about how they will operate effectively after that time, they should consider taking advantage of this opportunity to make structural changes to accommodate long-term remote participation, such as amending the bylaws to allow proxy voting by members and to confirm that directors may participate in board meetings by Zoom or teleconference.

Brad Bedingfield is Chair of the Nonprofit Group at Hemenway & Barnes LLP. Brad assists private foundations and public charities with navigating complex tax regulations and procedures, including receipt and disposition of complex charitable gifts and participation in innovative forms of impactful philanthropy.

Eleanor Evans is counsel at Hemenway & Barnes and a member of the firm’s Nonprofit Group.   She has over 20 years’ experience representing nonprofit organizations in a diverse range of legal, governance and compliance matters.

Policy Alert: Contact Congressional Representatives Today to Ensure that Nonprofits are Included in Next Round of Federal Relief

MNN calls on nonprofits to contact their Congressional representatives today and ask for their support of the nonprofit sector by including the following four clarifications and provisions in the next federal COVID-19 relief package:

  • expand nonprofit access to credit;
  • make permanent and significantly increase the federal universal charitable deduction;
  • recognize the significant financial burden on self-insured nonprofits; and
  • increase emergency funding.

Nonprofits can send this issue list along with a personal message about how their organizations have been impacted by COVID-19. Click the following links to find U.S. Senate and Representative contact information. Nonprofits can also send the below social media message to the appropriate congressional handles:

#Nonprofits call on Congress to 1) Designate funding exclusively for nonprofits, 2) Strengthen charitable giving incentives 3) Increase the unemployment insurance reimbursement for self-funded nonprofits and 4) Increase emergency funding #Relief4Charities. https://bit.ly/3cxIeOs

MNN Submits Comments on the New Federal Mid-Sized Loan Program

On Wednesday, April 15, MNN submitted comments to the Federal Reserve urging the Treasury and the Fed to ensure that the forthcoming mid-size loan program authorized by the CARES Act extends both eligibility and desirable loan terms to the nonprofit sector.

To date, nonprofits with 500 employees or more have not been eligible for the Small Business Administration Loan Programs.

Read MNN’s comments here.

Our Shared Sector: Why Nonprofits Should Center Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By YW Boston

MNNDEINonprofitsCOVID19_April (1)-min

Physical distancing policies established to help flatten the COVID-19 curve have unearthed the disparate impact that this pandemic has on employees within the same organization. Some staff cannot work from home. Others, whose primary responsibilities relate to direct service, face increased safety risks. Many parents, especially women and women of color, are juggling childcare and eldercare responsibilities while still putting in a full day’s work.

As soon as Americans became worried about COVID-19, we saw an increase in physical and verbal assaults against Asians and Asian Americans. Studies show that ecological threats exacerbate people’s prejudice against perceived outsiders and economic downturns increase prejudice against people of color. When a majority of our population gives into this “scarcity Mindset”, those with fewer resources are hit the hardest. Nonprofit organizations must stay vigilant to ensure equitable outcomes. We are already seeing how this pandemic disproportionately affects low-resource and at-risk families. For instance, many part-time and hourly-wage workers’ hours are being cut dramatically, while others are being laid off. As we see this pandemic cause a widespread economic downturn, we need to recognize how structural racism causes more severe consequences for people of color. Inequality persists during recessions, including the fact that as unemployment rose in the last recession, the severity of workplace discrimination did, too. Times of global uncertainty and fear can trigger automatic responses such as implicit bias.

Nonprofits may be facing additional hardships due to interruptions to programming and fundraising. Yet it is as important as ever for nonprofits to maintain their people-centered approach. We must prioritize ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our own employees and constituents. Leaders should avoid making assumptions and provide appropriate support to employees. Although we are going through a shared experience as a nation and as organizations, not everyone shares the same access to resources and safety nets. Being an inclusive leader during times of uncertainty requires flexibility, transparency, and proactive communication.

About YW Boston

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.

During this time, YW Boston is providing organizations with digital workshops and resources to help them better understand the challenges faced by their employees. As part of that work, we are helping organizations become socially connected while physically distant.

Nonprofit 411: Engaging Major Donors During Coronavirus

Nonprofit 411 Roger Magnus-minBy Diane Remin, MajorDonors.com

Let’s start by considering what donors want under normal circumstances. In her landmark, research-based book, Donor-Centered Fundraising (2003), author Penelope Burk, lays it out for us on page 10:

  1. Prompt, personalized acknowledgement of their gifts
  2. Confirmation that their gifts have been set to work as intended
  3. Measurable results on their gifts at work prior to be asked for another contribution

Donors want to know what you are doing with their money—and, as time goes by, what their gift accomplished. Additionally, they want to be thanked right away and personally. That hasn’t changed!

What is happening now—and what are the implications?

  • Uncertainty has increased. Trustworthiness has never been more important.
  • Distraction has increased. Donors need to be reminded about why your work is important.
  • You can’t visit with donors in-person. In these times, use the phone and, preferably, videoconferencing (e.g. Zoom, Skype, FaceTime)
  • There may be financial issues. Listen carefully—don’t presume. Be prepared to be flexible, e.g., re-negotiate pledge schedules. Take care of your donors!

How to engage your major donors: permission-based conversations.

I always feel a bit silly when I talk about a permission-based approach. Why? Because it is so obvious once you hear it. You are literally asking the donor for permission to take each step. Absent permission, stop and set-up the next check-in.

Step 1: Pick up the phone and check-in: How is the donor doing? This question has new significance amidst Covid-19. How are they, their family, how are they dealing with staying home, etc. Listen, listen, listen. If the donor is not doing well, stop, help if you can, and agree on another call an appropriate time down the road.

Step 2: Get permission to discuss what your organization is doing in response to COVID-19. Literally, “Can we talk about what [nonprofit] is doing in response to COVID-19?” Make this a discussion by including the donor: How does that strike you? Is this making sense? Do you have any thoughts about this?

Step 3: If the donor is engaged, get permission to talk about the funding plan: “Would it be OK if I share the funding plan with you now?” You are getting permission to talk about money. For this part of the conversation, you’ll need a funding plan:

  • A dollar goal (think of this as a campaign)—On the phone, this sounds like: “We are looking to raise $X to [highlight key point or two most relevant to donor].”
  • A leadership giving chart with the number of gifts at each level. On the phone, simply describe a leadership giving range: “We are looking for leadership gifts in the $10,000 to $50,000 range.” Tip: Consider asking one or two top donors for lead, matching gift(s) that total 50% of the goal.
  • Gift impact examples tied to the various leadership giving levels. On the phone, you’ll mention one or two that coincide with the donor’s likely giving level.

Step 4: Give the donor the opportunity to help.

It is a myth that major donors won’t give or that you should leave your donors alone. Quite the contrary! Previous crises tell us that donors want to hear from you, know that you care, learn what you are doing, and help if they can.

Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act

On March 27, Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act. The legislation would provide emergency funding for nonprofits and create a universal charitable deduction. The representatives are also advocating for nonprofits of any size to qualify for newly-expanded Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.

Specifically, the SOS America Act would:

  • Expressly provide charitable nonprofits with $60B for any emergency funding proposals. The bill provides for $60 billion in emergency support for charitable nonprofits and a mechanism to rapidly infuse cash to those organizations serving immediate needs in communities facing lost and declining revenue due to the pandemic.
  • Create a robust universal charitable deduction. Improve the proposed above-the-line charitable deduction of the CARES Act (which set a $300 cap) by significantly raising the cap and allowing all taxpayers to immediately claim the deduction on their 2019 taxes and beyond.

Once the CARES Act is enacted into law, Rep. Moulton and Rep. Fitzpatrick plan to amend the bill to ensure all nonprofits qualify for the newly created small business loans and remove the 500-employee caps. They also plan to clarify that charitable nonprofits of all sizes are able to participate in the emergency SBA loan program and remove the cap on the number of employees.

“Nonprofits are operating at a loss to help people manage the disruption coronavirus is causing. The YMCA is feeding kids who don’t have school lunches to count on. The YWCA is sheltering women who don’t have safe homes to quarantine in. Other groups are advocating for Americans with compromised immune systems in a health care system that’s being tested,” said Representative Moulton in a press release. 

“Despite this work, these groups and many others still face the same challenges small businesses are facing, and they need a hand from the government. I urge Congress to work with Rep. Fitzpatrick and me to provide one.”

How the Federal COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Bill Would Affect Nonprofits: Phase III of the Federal Response

from the National Council of Nonprofits

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

On March 25, Congressional and Administration negotiators reached agreement on the Phase 3 of the federal response to COVID-19: a $2 trillion stimulus package. The Senate passed the bill Wednesday evening, and there are plans for the House to pass it on Friday, and for the President to sign it swiftly. MNN is using the updates regarding federal relief to inform our state-level advocacy strategy moving forward. 

Below is an analysis of the elements of this landmark legislation that impact nonprofit organizations, compiled by our partners at the National Council on Nonprofits.

Note: for information on what the previous federal relief package did, see our previous blog post entitled “What the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Means to Nonprofits: Phase II of the Federal Response.”

 What’s in the Bill for Nonprofits

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (S. 748) provides significant funding for businesses, hospitals, schools, and social support programs, among many other things. Below are key nonprofit issues of sector-wide interest on which advocates have been most active. These are based on an initial analysis of the nearly 900-page bill. More details may become apparent with more thorough analysis. 

Emergency Small Business Loans (emergency SBA 7(a) loans): Provides funding for special emergency loans of up to $10 million for eligible nonprofits and small businesses, permitting them to cover costs of payroll, operations, and debt service, and provides that the loans be forgiven in whole or in part under certain circumstances. Title I, Section 1102.

  • General Eligibility: Available to entities that existed on March 1, 2020 and had paid employees.
  • Nonprofit Eligibility: Available for charitable nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees (counting each individual – full time or part time and not FTEs). The final bill does not include a provision in earlier drafts that would have disqualified nonprofits that are eligible for payments under Title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid).
  • Loan Use: Loan funds could be used to make payroll and associated costs, including health insurance premiums, facilities costs, and debt service.
  • Loan Forgiveness: Employers that maintain employment between March 1 and June 30 would be eligible to have their loans forgiven, essentially turning the loan into a grant. Section 1106.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): Eliminates creditworthiness requirements and appropriates an additional $10 billion to the EIDL program so that eligible nonprofits and other applicants can get checks for $10,000 within three days. Section 1110.

Self-Funded Nonprofits and Unemployment: Reimburses self-funded nonprofits for half of the costs of benefits provided to their laid-off employees. This is explained in a recent blog article. Section 2103. 

Charitable Giving Incentive: Includes a new above-the-line deduction (universal or non-itemizer deduction that applies to all taxpayers) for total charitable contributions of up to $300. The incentive applies to contributions made in 2020 and would be claimed on tax forms next year. Section 2204. The bill also lifts the existing cap on annual contributions for those who itemize, raising it from 60 percent of adjusted gross income to 100 percent. For corporations, the bill raises the annual limit from 10 percent to 25 percent. Food donations from corporations would be available to 25 percent, up from the current 15 percent cap. Section 2205

Employee Retention Payroll Tax Credit: Creates a refundable payroll tax credit of up to $5,000 for each employee on the payroll when certain conditions are met. The entity had to be an ongoing concern at the beginning of 2020 and had seen a drop in revenue of at least 50 percent in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2019. The availability of the credit would continue each quarter until the organization’s revenue exceeds 80 percent of the same quarter in 2019. For tax-exempt organizations, the entity’s whole operations must be taken into account when determining the decline in revenues. Notably, employers receiving emergency SBA 7(a) loans would not be eligible for these credits. Section 2301.

Industry Stabilization Fund: Creates a loan and loan guarantee program for industries like airlines to keep them solvent through the crisis. It sets aside $425 billion for “eligible business” which is defined as “a United States business that has not otherwise received economic relief in the form of loans or loan guarantees provided under” the legislation. It is expected, but unclear, whether charitable nonprofits qualify under that definition for industry stabilization loans. Mid-sized businesses, including nonprofits, that have between 500 and 10,000 employees are expressly eligible for loans under this provision. Although there is no loan forgiveness provision in this section, the mid-size business loans would be charged an interest rate of no higher than two percent and  would not accrue interest or require repayments for the first six months. Nonprofits accepting the mid-size business loans must retain at least 90 percent of their staff at full compensation. Section 4003. 

Other Significant Provisions 

Direct Payments to adults of $1,200 or less and $500 per child ($3,400 for a family of four) to be sent out in weeks. The amount of the payments phases out based on earnings of between $75,000 and $99,000 ($150,000 / $198,000 for couples).

Expanded Unemployment Insurance: Includes coverage for workers who are furloughed, gig workers, and freelancers. Increases payments by $600 per week for four months on top of what state unemployment programs pay. 

Amendments to the New Paid Leave Mandates: Lowers the amounts that employers must pay for paid sick and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act* (enacted March 19) to the amounts covered by the refundable payroll tax credit – i.e., $511 per day for employee sick leave or $200 per day for family leave. 

Significant Spending: The bill also calls for large infusions of cash to the following sectors:

  • $150 billion for a state, tribal, and local Coronavirus Relief fund
  • $130 billion for hospitals
  • $30 billion for education
  • $25 billion for transit systems

Legislative Summaries:

A section-by-section for appropriations

What the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Means to Nonprofits

by the National Council of Nonprofits

On March 19, the President signed into law, H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The bill includes a complex set of temporary paid leave mandates and employer reimbursement provisions, as well as funding for free coronavirus testing, food nutrition security, and Unemployment extension.

Employment Provisions 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act imposes new job protections for workers, paid leave mandates on employers, and a generous reimbursement scheme for employers that are designed to hold nonprofit and for-profit employers. The law provides two weeks of paid sick leave, a subsequent ten weeks of partially paid family leave for care of a child, and refundable tax credits in many cases will result in the Treasury Department writing checks to employers to cover some of the costs of the mandates.

Two Weeks of Emergency Paid Sick Leave: The law (at Sec. 5102) requires employers with fewer than 500 employees (including nonprofits) and government employers to provide their employees two weeks of paid sick leave, paid at the employee’s regular rate, to quarantine or seek a diagnosis or preventive care for the coronavirus. It also requires payment at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate to care for a family member for those purposes or to care for a child whose school has closed or child care provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus. These provisions expire at the end of December 2020.

The Secretary of Labor is authorized to exclude health care providers and emergency responders from the definition of employees allowed to take leave, exempt small businesses, including nonprofits, with fewer than 50 employees, and ensure consistency between paid family and paid sick standards and tax credits. In general, employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick time, and are immediately eligible for the leave under this bill.

Twelve Weeks of Emergency Family and Medical Leave: The law (at Section 3102) expands the number of workers who can take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for coronavirus-related reasons. After the two weeks of emergency paid leave (above), employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees will be eligible to receive at least two-thirds of each employee’s usual pay. Employees must have been employed for at least 30 days to qualify and meet a “qualifying need related to a public health emergency.” The qualifying reasons for the emergency paid leave are caring for a child if the child’s school or childcare center is closed due to coronavirus. The provisions would also expire at the end of 2020. 

Generally, employees taking Emergency FMLA have job protection, but the bill provides an exception for employers with fewer than 25 employees if the position no longer exists following leave due to operation changes from the public health emergency. Health care providers and emergency responders are also excluded from the definition of employees allowed to take this leave, and the law exempts small businesses, including nonprofits, with fewer than 50 employees. 

Reimbursable Payroll Tax Credits Available: Employers paying for the mandated paid leave are entitled to claim a refundable tax credit. Specifically, the tax credit is allowed against the employer portion of payroll taxes, and any paid leave costs that exceed the amount of payroll taxes owed will be refundable to the employer at the end of each quarter. This means the federal government will cover all or a portion of the costs of these paid leave mandates. The amounts depend upon what the employee is doing. 

  • Under the Paid Sick Leave Mandate: Employers paying for employees who must self-isolate, obtain a diagnosis, or comply with self-isolation recommendation with respect to coronavirus may receive tax credits of up to $511 per day. Payments to employees caring for a family member or for a child whose school or child care center is closed, qualified sick leave wages are capped at $200 per day. Both types of wages are capped at 10 days in the aggregate. (Section 7001)
  • Paid Family and Medical Leave Mandate: The refundable tax credit for qualified family leave provision is capped at $200 per day and $10,000 each quarter. (Section 7003)                                                 

Other Major Provisions 

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): The legislation authorizes states to request a waiver for temporary, emergency CR-SNAP benefits to existing beneficiaries up to the maximum monthly allotment. The Secretary of Agriculture is given broad discretion to provide flexibility for state waivers and USDA guidance. All work and training requirements for SNAP benefits are suspended during the crisis. 

Child and Senior Food and Nutrition: A combined $900 million was appropriated for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC), which provides nutrition for low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children, and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to assist local food banks to purchase food as well as storage and distribution. WIC requirements of physical presence for certification may be waived by the Secretary of Agriculture. The legislation also authorizes the Department of Agriculture to approve state plans for emergency Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) food assistance for households with children who receive free or reduced school meals if their school is closed for at least five consecutive days. A separate provision allows all child and adult care centers to operate as non-congregate and take food to go. The Secretary of Agriculture may waive nutrition requirements due to disruption in the supply. An additional $250 million is provided for the Senior Nutrition program for 25 million home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors.

Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act: The law establishes a new act (Section 4101) to provide $1 billion for emergency grants to states for processing and paying unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. Half of the funding would be for staffing, technology, systems, and other administrative costs for eligible workers. States must require employers to provide notification of potential UI eligibility to laid-off workers, ensure workers have at least two ways to apply, and notify applicants when an application is received and processed. If an application cannot be processed, the state must provide information on how to ensure successful processing. The other half of funding would be reserved for emergency grants to states with at least a 10 percent increase in unemployment, and these states would be able to receive 100 perfect federal funding for Extended Benefits under a separate provision (Section 4105), compared to the normal requirement that the state funds 50 percent of the benefit. Section 4103 provides states with access to interest-free loans to help pay regular UI benefits to the end of the year.

Coronavirus Testing: The law provides free testing for all Americans for COVID-19, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Private and public insurers (Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and other federal health programs) must cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the cost of a provider, urgent care center, and emergency room visits.