There’s no denying that 2020 was a tough year for small businesses. Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many small businesses for months, but it also introduced a number of new regulatory issues for business owners to contend with.
At Generations Law Group, we make it our business to help your Idaho small business succeed. That means making sure you’re up to date on all the biggest regulatory developments of the last year, and what they mean for your business plan.
Here are the top 6 regulatory issues for small businesses in 2021.
1. SBA COVID relief
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), administered through the Small Business Administration (SBA), was arguably the most important element of the government’s COVID-19 stimulus program for small businesses.
Although the 2021 PPP ended on May 31, there are a number of other programs in place to provide relief for small businesses:
- PPP loan forgiveness
- SBA debt relief
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
- Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG)
- Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF)
Read more about these programs on the SBA website here.
2. Paid leave and remote work
The COVID-19 changed the way many businesses operate regarding paid leave and workplace attendance.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) both give employers the option to extend emergency paid leave for employees through September 30, 2021. However, many of the requirements that businesses of a certain size provide paid sick and family leave pertaining to COVID-19 expired earlier this year.
In addition, employees eligible for emergency leave may now take such leave if they are obtaining an immunization related to COVID-19 or are recovering from any injury, illness, disability, or condition related to vaccination.
Another change that many businesses may be undergoing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is a transition to a partial or total remote workplace. Remote work brings up a number of regulatory issues for businesses to keep in mind:
- best practices for developing an efficient and safe virtual workspace
- tax compliance if an employee’s home is in a different location than the employer
- wage/hour issues for non-exempt employees and how they will track hours
- workers’ compensation obligations in a virtual setting
3. Workplace safety
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has introduced a number of new guidelines and standards regarding workplace safety in the era of COVID-19:
- Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare
- National Emphasis Program
- New enforcement standards
- Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace guidance
Read more about these updated regulations on OSHA’s website here.
4. Joint employment
A final rule issued in 2020 revised the agency’s regulations interpreting joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and clarified when an employer can be held jointly liable for federal wage and hour obligations to the employee.
However, a federal court struck down critical portions of the rule, and the Biden administration is now considering rescinding the rule in favor of new regulations clarifying the definition of “joint employer.”
5. Worker classification
Joint employment wasn’t the only employment issue that saw changes in classification rules last year, either.
The battle over worker classification continued in California last year. The passage of Proposition 22 exempts ride-sharing and delivery apps from AB 5, which requires employers to classify their workers as employees in most cases instead of independent contractors.
Worker classification laws are expected to be a battleground over the next few years, and should be something that small business owners keep an eye out for.
A number of regulatory changes over the last few years have impacted the retirement plans that small business owners can offer:
- The SECURE Act passed in 2019 allows businesses to band together in a Pooled Employment Plan (PEP) and offer retirement plans jointly, reducing the financial burden on each employer individually
- The COVID-19 relief bill has offered businesses relief for terminated retirement plans
- Some states have implemented state-based retirement programs, and similar programs are in the works in many other states around the country
Idaho has no such program, as of now, but it’s worth keeping an eye on such developments.
Contact an Idaho business attorney today
If you have any issues with new regulatory issues in 2021, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced business attorney like our team at Generations Law Group. Contact us to schedule a consultation and talk about your case.