Updated: Coronavirus, Unemployment, & Other Resources for Ohio

Date: May 15, 2020

Resources for you as a small business owner…

Due to recent events related to the spread of the coronavirus, NFIB members have requested guidance on whether their employees may qualify for assistance if businesses are forced to close temporarily, reduce employees’ hours, or ask workers to stay home.

NFIB is here to support our members. You can contact the Ohio office with any questions or concerns via e-mail which can be found here: https://www.nfib.com/ohio/contact-nfib/ or call the office at 614-221-4107.

IMPORTANT: COVID-19 Information and Checklist for Businesses/Employers Checklist for Businesses and Employers 04.21.2020

40 Questions answered on Unemployment Compensation by ODJFS 

The Latest: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine is ordering the relaxing of some unemployment compensation requirements and timelines for COVID-19 impacted workers who do not receive paid leave and for people who have been quarantined due to COVID-19. Visit unemployment.ohio.gov for additional information. 

Starting on Friday, April 24, Ohioans who are unemployed as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but who don’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits can begin pre-registering for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a new federal program that covers many more categories of workers. 

The new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program will provide benefits for many individuals ineligible for state unemployment benefits, including self-employed workers and 1099 tax filers.

Governor DeWine signed an executive order (2020-03D) on March 16, 2020, that makes several changes to Ohio’s unemployment law.

  1. Unemployed workers will include individuals requested by a medical professional, local health authority, or employer to be isolated or quarantined as a consequence of COVID-19 even if not actually diagnosed with COV-19; and
  1. Individuals totally or partially unemployed, or who are participating in the SharedWork Ohio Program will not be required to serve a waiting period before receiving unemployment insurance or SharedWork benefits; and
  1. Any benefit paid on these unemployment claims shall not be charged to the account of the employer who otherwise would have been charged but instead shall be charged to the mutualized account, except reimbursing employers; and
  1. Waiver of work search requirements shall include those individuals requested by a medical professional, local health authority or employer to be isolated or quarantined as a consequence of COVID-19 even if not actually diagnosed with COV-19; and
  1. Penalties for late reporting and payments will be waived for employers affected by COVID-19.

The above orders apply only to those workers that do not have access to leave benefits from their employer(s).

On April 21, 2020,  In an effort to streamline claims processing and expedite payments, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) is implementing a new weekly claim filing process for Ohioans who have been approved to receive unemployment benefits. Starting on Sunday, April 26, individuals filing weekly claims should do so on the day of the week specified, based on the first letter of their last name. 

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) outlines the most common questions asked by employers. http://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/CoronavirusAndUI.stm

Unemployment Compensation Information and Contact Information

PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

Ohioans can now apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a new federal program that covers many more categories of workers than the traditional unemployment program.

Those who believe they may be eligible should visit pua.unemployment.ohio.gov and click the button that says, “Click Here to Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.” Individuals who pre-registered for the program received an email with instructions for how to complete their applications.

Ohio Unemployment Questions and Answers

Question 1: How do I apply for unemployment insurance?

Answer: File online at http://unemployment.ohio.gov, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, or call toll-free 1-877-644-6562 or TTY 1-614-387-8408, (excluding holidays) Monday through Friday 8 AM – 5 PM.

Question 2: Will workers qualify for unemployment benefits if the coronavirus (COVID-19) causes an employer to shut down operations?

Answer: Updated: An executive order issued by Governor DeWine expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period. Unemployment benefits will be available for eligible individuals who are requested by a medical professional, local health authority, or employer to be isolated or quarantined as a consequence of COVID-19, even if they are not actually diagnosed with COVID-19. In addition, the waiting period for eligible Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits will be waived.

Question 3: If an employer lays off employees due to the loss of production caused by the coronavirus, will the employees be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?

Answer: Yes, if the employees are otherwise eligible. An executive order issued by Governor DeWine expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

Question 4: If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, will the employer’s unemployment taxes increase?

Answer: For contributory employers, charges during Ohio’s emergency declaration period will be mutualized. Reimbursing employers will follow existing charging requirements under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4141.

Question 5: If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, can the benefits be charged to the mutual account?

Answer: Updated: Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine allows unemployment benefit charges to be mutualized for contributory employers. In addition, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will waive penalties for late reporting and payments during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

Question 6: If an asymptomatic employee imposes a self-quarantine because of the coronavirus, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Answer: In most cases, no. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual-not the employer-is choosing not to work and, therefore, would be ineligible. However, the facts of each circumstance are important. If the employer allowed this individual to telework, they would not qualify for benefits because they would not be unemployed. If the employer required the individual to stay home but did not offer telework, the individual might be eligible for benefits if they met the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria.

Question 7: If an employee is in mandatory quarantine because of suspicion of having the coronavirus, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Answer: Updated: Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine states that employees who are quarantined are considered to be unemployed.

Question 8: If the coronavirus creates a situation that causes an employer to submit quarterly reports and/or payments late, will the filing deadline be extended?

Answer: Updated: Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine waives penalties for late reporting and payments during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

Question 9: What is the unemployment insurance impact on tipped workers?

Answer: That depends on how the employer reported the employee’s wages. If the employer reported tips as part of the employee’s wage, it would be reflected on their tax reporting and therefore the UI benefit would be based on wages with tips. If the employer did not include tips in the wage, the employee will need to file an affidavit with their tipped wages for ODJFS to review.

Question 10: Are self-employed individuals who have experienced a downturn in their businesses due to COVID-19 eligible for unemployment benefits?

Answer: It depends. Self-employed individuals who have been solely self-employed for the last year or more may not meet the monetary requirements to establish a claim because the wages they earned from self-employment are not considered “covered” under the unemployment law.

Question 11: An employee filing for unemployment is being required to submit a copy of their social security card, cannot find the card, and cannot obtain one because the local Social Security Administration office is closed due to COVID-19. What can they do?

Answer: Claimants should be instructed to call their local Social Security Administration office first to find out who they can speak with remotely. The online office locator is located at https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp. When speaking with Social Security Administration staff, callers should request a “Numi Lite” form which is a verification of their Social Security Number (SSN). This form can be submitted to ODJFS for SSN verifications.

For independent contractors not eligible for Unemployment Compensation benefits impacted by the coronavirus, the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program provides unemployment benefits to individuals who have become unemployed as a direct result of a Presidentially declared major disaster. https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/597

You can perform many of the JFS county office functions you need at http://benefits.ohio.gov OR by calling 1-844-640-6446.

ODJFS is instructing Ohio employers planning layoffs or shutdowns, as a result, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to share the following mass lay-off number with their employees to speed the processing of unemployment benefits: 2000180. The agency also is providing instructions for employers to share with their employees about how to apply for benefits.

Questions about COVID-19? Visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH for answers.

Our partner CareWorks Comp has a printable Q & A on unemployment compensation as well: NFIB_CWC_2020_UC

Additional Resources…

For Small Business Needing To Purchase PPE

The Ohio Manufacturing Alliance to Fight COVID-19 has launched the Ohio Emergency PPE Makers’ Exchange, an online marketplace where organizations that need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and related equipment can find a wide selection offered by Ohio manufacturers. This online marketplace offers PPE and related equipment for health care workers, first responders, and essential businesses. It’s especially well-suited for organizations that may have lower-volume needs, such as small businesses.

More from NFIB

CARES Act Helpful Documents:

Small Business Loans Side by Side

Paycheck Protection Program Forgivable Loans

COVID-19 related webinars include:

Ohio’s Shared Work Program

Helping employers avoid laying off workers in Ohio through SharedWork, which allows workers to remain employed and employers to retain trained staff during times of reduced business activity. http://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/SharedWorkOhio/ 

Information from our partner Bricker & Eckler LLP

Bricker & Eckler coronavirus resource page: https://www.bricker.com/resource-center/COVID19

Ohio offers employers relief for COVID-19 related work disruptions https://www.bricker.com/resource-center/COVID19/publications/ohio-offers-employers-relief-for-covid-19-related-work-disruptions

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will delay premium installment payments for employers for March, April, and May of 2020 https://www.bricker.com/resource-center/COVID19/publications/ohio-bwc-defers-employers-premium-payments 

The Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) issued Bulletin 2020-05, which contains the order of the Superintendent of Insurance regarding preauthorization and cost-sharing requirements for testing and treatments relating to COVID-19 (coronavirus) https://www.bricker.com/resource-center/COVID19/publications/covid-19-update-odi-issues-bulletin-on-out-of-network-coverage-for-coronavirus-testing-and-treatment

The Department of Labor (DOL) has created a poster highlighting paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Employers must post this notice “in a conspicuous place on its premises,” such as an employee break room or other common space. https://www.bricker.com/resource-center/COVID19/publications/dol-issues-a-families-first-coronavirus-response-act-poster

PUCO

In response to the state of emergency declared by Governor DeWine, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today extended temporary regulatory relief from the hours-of-service requirements for drivers operating commercial motor vehicles transporting relief supplies including consumer goods and medical supplies within the state of Ohio. The regulatory relief is effective immediately and will expire at 11:59 p.m. on March 27, 2020. https://www.puco.ohio.gov/index.cfm?LinkServID=50A07379-5056-8052-51488CD532FE67EE

The drivers are to keep a copy of the attached notice in each vehicle affected by the relief. Download notice.

The PUCO also took action to ask utilities to suspend disconnection and waive any requirements for reconnections. For all types of customers (residential and business). All of the utilities are doing so, however, we know many are unable to quickly edit their automated billing systems to stop sending disconnection notices. Columbia Gas of Ohio was able to stop sending them but most others still are. However, the PUCO assures Ohioans the utilities are not following through with those disconnections.

PUCO extends utility reconnect order https://www.puco.ohio.gov/media-room/media-releases/puco-extends-utility-reconnect-order/

Utility companies directed to review disconnection and social contact policies https://www.puco.ohio.gov/media-room/media-releases/utility-companies-directed-to-review-disconnection-and-social-contact-policies/

Home Energy Assistance Program and Winter Crisis Program Extended 

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC)

Temporary Telehealth Policy – COVID-19 State of Emergency https://www.bwc.ohio.gov/downloads/blankpdf/PolicyAlert-TempTeleHealthCOVID-19.pdf

The Ohio BWC has prepared this Frequently Asked Questions document to provide information about the coronavirus’ (COVID-19’s) impact on BWC operations.

Ohio BWC Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions (March 26, 2020) COVID-19-BWCFAQs

FAQs update: Employer program reporting/requirement deadlines

Taxation

Ohio Extending Income Tax Filing and Payment Deadline

Ohio’s Coronavirus Tax Relief Tax Changes Page

What are the tax filing dates over the next 30 days:

NOT Extended:

  • Ohio Employer Withholding Tax: Return due in the normal course based on the taxpayer’s existing filing status.
  • Ohio Sales/Use Tax: Return due on April 23.
  • Ohio Commercial Activity Tax (Q1): Return due on May 11.
  • Ohio Commercial Activity Tax (Annual): Return due on May 11.
  • Ohio Petroleum Activity Tax (Q1): Return due on May 11.
  • Ohio Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax: Return due on April 30.

Date Changes:

  • Ohio Pass-Through Entity Withholding Tax (if the ordinary due date falls between April 15 and June 15): Deadline has been extended to July 15.
  • Ohio Personal Income Tax: 2019 Return extended to July 15.
  • Ohio Personal Income Tax: 2020 First quarter estimated tax payment extended to July 15.
  • Municipal Net Profits Tax (if the ordinary due date falls between April 15 and June 15): Deadline has been extended to July 15 only for taxpayers who file their return with the Ohio Department of Taxation, if not check with the applicable city’s website to see if the city has extended the due date.

IRS – The Coronavirus Landing Page and Associated Pages:

Ohio Development Services Agency

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted’s creation of the Office of Small Business Relief under the Ohio Development Services Agency, which will coordinate Ohio’s efforts to support nearly a million small businesses in our state, will make it easier for entrepreneurs to navigate their way through these uncertain times. Visit their page here: https://businesshelp.ohio.gov/

Ohio now qualifies for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. This program provides low-interest loans up to $2 million in order to help businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue during the state of emergency. In order to complete the state’s application, businesses impacted by the current public health crisis should immediately send their contact information to [email protected]. Additional information on the SBA

Please see this informational PowerPoint for small businesses who want to apply, you are encouraged them to apply directly online at disasterloan.sba.gov

CARES ACT FAQs for Small Businesses

CARES Act explained

CARES Act FAQs

Paycheck-Protection-Program-Frequently-Asked-Questions

Approved SBA Lenders for the CARES Act Cleveland Lenders & Central Southern Ohio Lenders

The Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, intends to provide timely additional guidance to address borrower and lender questions concerning the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), established by section 1102 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act or the Act). This document will be updated on a regular basis. (Updated May 13)

On June 4, 2020, the US Senate passed H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020. NFIB Key Voted in support of the bill, and we urge the President to sign the bill into law immediately.

H.R. 7010:

  • Lengthens the loan forgiveness period from eight weeks to 24 weeks.
  • Lowers the amount of PPP funds that must be spent on payroll from 75% to 60% and allows 40% for other qualifying expenses.
  • Delays employer payroll tax payments through the end of 2020.
  • Exempts borrowers from the FTE loan forgiveness reduction if borrowers are unable to return to the same level of business activity as before Feb. 15th due to COVID-19.

Here is how the changes to PPP Loans impact small business owners

US Department of Labor

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave

DOL Issues Mandatory Poster and New Guidance On Coronavirus Paid Leave Law:  https://www.nfib.com/content/analysis/coronavirus/dol-issues-mandatory-poster-and-new-guidance-on-coronavirus-paid-leave-law/

Small Business Administration – COVID-19 and the Workplace

The Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

ELA0-Business Loan Application (SBA 5)

Below is a link to the Ohio Development Services Agency business survey to determine damage related to economic impacts in Ohio (it does NOT serve as an application for resources). https://odsa.force.com/EDASurvey 

Restaurants can still serve you…

Remember, there are 22,500 foodservice locations in Ohio, many of which are fellow NFIB members, with 585,000 total employees, staying open to provide consumers food via:

  • Takeout
  • Pick-up window
  • Curbside pickup
  • Delivery

Support Ohio Small Businesses

https://ohio.org/supportlocalohio/

How to deal with the coronavirus in your place of business:

More information on updates from Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health can be found here: https://www.nfib.com/content/nfib-in-my-state/ohio/coronavirus-disease-update-from-the-ohio-dept-of-health/

Our partner CareWorks Comp is also available to handle your questions:

Unemployment Compensation Questions – Melissa Keys me[email protected]
Safety in the Workplace Questions – Jim Saulters [email protected]

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