SMB News Weekly Rundown

Welcome to the Small Business Weekly Rundown. Each week, we bring you stories and trends that impact small business owners and their workforce.

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Small Business News Highlights:

On Inauguration Day, D.C. small businesses saw lost profits

“Inauguration week was going to be the busiest week of the whole year. But if you’re looking at it now, everything in D.C. is shut down now.”

Every 4 years, small businesses in Washington, D.C. see their profits jump thanks to a massive influx of tourists who arrive for the inauguration. This year, the hope of any inauguration-related profit boost was already in doubt because of the COVID-19 pandemic when the Capitol riots and subsequent shutdown of the city dealt the final blow.

D.C. small business owners say that they are in the eye of a perfect storm of financial woes related to COVID-19 and the threat of ongoing civil unrest. Since July 2020, more than 25% of small businesses in the city have closed, and overall revenue has dropped by 50%.

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Widespread National Guard deployment impacts employers

“Due to the current climate and civil disturbances happening across the United States, employers should be aware that it may not be possible for employees to provide advance notice of their National Guard or uniformed service.”

With more than 21,000 National Guard members authorized to deploy to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration, employers from all 50 states are experiencing the impact of an employee leaving for service with very little notice.

Under federal law, employees who serve in the National Guard are protected from retaliation by their employer for their service. Furthermore, while employers do have a right to advanced notice about an employee’s upcoming service, the law does allow for situations where civil or military unrest causes employees to leave on short notice.

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President Joe Biden’s plan to expand pandemic relief for paid leave

“This policy is a big part of what workers need during these tough months, and it will serve as a strong foundation to finally establish permanent policies on paid sick days and paid family and medical leave.”

As part of his $1.9 trillion economic agenda, President Joe Biden has proposed extending the paid leave benefits that expired in December of last year.

Under President Biden’s proposal, American workers would be eligible to take more than 3 months off from work for pandemic-related health reasons. The proposal would allow the following workers to receive their full pay, up to $1400 per week, for 14 weeks or longer, depending on the situation:

  • Sick with COVID-19 symptoms
  • Quarantining because of COVID-19 exposure
  • Needing time off to get the vaccine
  • Caring for family members who are sick with COVID-19 symptoms
  • Caring for children whose school or day care center is closed because of the pandemic
  • Caring for older relatives or adult dependents whose long-term care facility is closed because of the pandemic

While this plan still needs to be approved by both the House and Senate, supporters note that it could be a monumental step in laying the foundation for paid-leave laws to be enacted at the federal level.

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SBA reports $5 billion in small business relief loans approved last week

“The new forgiveness application make PPP even more attractive to struggling businesses by streamlining the process for getting loans forgiven.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that nearly $5 billion worth of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were approved during the first week of the program’s second round. Nearly 60,000 loan applications were approved through 3,000 different lenders.

In addition, the SBA releases a new single-page application for loan forgiveness for businesses holding loans worth $150,000 or less. The application is designed to make it easier for struggling SMBs to convert their loan into a grant if they’ve met the program’s requirements.

The Latest from Workest

Hard to believe it’s tax season already. If you’re feeling less than prepared to file this year, review some of these new deductions related to the COVID-19 pandemic available to SMBs.

The first 100 days of President Biden’s will likely be a flurry of legislative initiatives. Cinnamon Janzer discusses 6 Areas Where President Biden Could Impact Employment and Employee Benefits.

Finally, before we say goodbye for the week, here are 3 things you should know:

  1. Employees balking at getting the COVID-19 vaccine? Follow Instacart’s lead and pay them to get the jab.
  2. The pandemic and new WFH flexibility may have spurred people to relocate, yet research shows nearly 86% of people who moved didn’t cross state lines.
  3. If you want to let your boss know how you’re feeling but can’t be bothered to use words, Moodbeam bracelets let you push a button and transmit your mood to your supervisor.
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