While I generally try to avoid legal topics in our weekly articles, unusual times call for unusual articles. Many people are wondering what to do if they cannot work and how they can get paid. If you’re operating a small business, you may be wondering how you can keep your business afloat when you can’t open it or don’t have any customers coming in the door.
If you have been laid off and are unemployed through “no fault of your own”, you can apply for unemployment immediately. There is no waiting period right now. The faster you can file for unemployment and get your employer to fill out the paperwork, the faster you can begin collecting benefits. Most state agencies are closed to the public so file online at labor.alabama.gov/unemployment.aspx.
If you are an employer and need to lay off employees, be sure to talk to an attorney before layoffs. You may be able to offer Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave and have that reimbursed through a credit for your taxes. You may be able to pay people to work from home if that can be done effectively.
If you cannot work because your children are out of school and you have to care for them, you may be eligible for leave under FMLA. The new Families First Coronavirus Response Act extends FMLA leave so that employees can get paid 2/3 of their pay for up to 12 weeks if an employee, “who is unable to work or telework, has to care for the employee’s child (under 18 years of age) if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the childcare provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency.” The employer should get paid back for this leave through employee tax credits and direct payback over the tax credits.
If you own a business and have had to shut it down, you may have insurance coverage that could provide some benefits, such as business interruption coverage. Keep good records of when you’re shut down and your lost income. Call your insurance company and file a claim.
While none of this is designed to provide specific legal advice to anyone on any of these topics, be aware of your options and know that we’re all in this together. Everyone is looking for solutions. I hope this helps.
Christy Crow is an attorney with Jinks, Crow & Dickson, P.C.