Welcome to the Small Business Weekly Rundown. Each week, we bring you stories and trends that impact small business owners and their workforce.
Small Business News Highlights:
- Two pharmaceutical companies announce positive results for COVID-19 vaccine
- Deutsche Bank proposes taxing remote employees to support frontline workers
- Small businesses continue to struggle with new rounds of lockdowns
- Up to 12 million Americans could lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas
- Florida passes $15 minimum wage increase
Promising news about COVID-19 vaccines
“Small companies now have a better lifeline going forward [with the arrival of positive clinical study results for vaccine candidates].”
Positive announcements from 2 pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Moderna, regarding the efficacy and safety of their COVID-19 vaccine sent stocks climbing. And while the initial doses will mostly likely go to frontline workers and the elderly after Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is granted from the FDA, the news was also enough to bolster the spirits of many smaller companies and firms. The FDA has also granted EUA for an at-home Coronavirus test that has the potential to help get people back to work safely and efficiently.
Proposal to tax remote employees
“Our calculations suggest the amounts raised could fund material income subsidies for low-income earners who are unable to work remotely and thus assume more ‘old economy’ and health risks.”
The debate continues, however, over when or if employees will actually return to the office full-time after the pandemic ends. While many firms are planning for a hybrid strategy that will allow people to split their time between working from home and going into the office, a growing list of companies have indicated that they will allow employees to work from home (or anywhere) permanently.
What about workers who don’t have the choice of going to work in the next room? Researchers from Deutsche Bank have proposed taxing remote employees to help supplement the pay and care for low-income earners or frontline employees who don’t have the choice and must therefore assume more risk. The researchers suggested that an average salary of $55,000 per year should be taxed at 5%, which could raise as much as $48 billion per year.
Small businesses continue to struggle
“I don’t know. It’s pretty grim out there right now.”
Despite the good news about forthcoming vaccines, many small businesses continue to struggle as state and local officials announce new rounds of lockdowns and limit business’s operating hours and indoor capacity. House and Senate Democratic leadership has asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to restart stimulus negotiations, though neither party seems interested in changing their demands and making a deal. Without additional federal resources, SBOs are forced to look for aid in other places, through state and local programs, private corporation grants, and even crowdfunding platforms.
Unemployment benefits post-Christmas
“We’re just careening into this huge cliff and it’s like it’s not even happening. People are just totally, completely ignoring the situation at a time when things are getting worse before they’re going to get better in terms of public health. And that just really is going to constrain people’s ability to get a job when benefits run out.”
If Congress doesn’t act soon, though, up to 12 million Americans will lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas. Despite encouraging trends in unemployment across the nation, an estimated 21.1 million people still receive jobless payments from the government and another 4.4 million people have already run through their benefits for the year.
For people who have still not received their government stimulus check, November 21 is the deadline to submit your information to the IRS.
Florida voters said yes to increased minimum wage
“If we can get it in the Deep South, you know, down there in Florida, it’s bringing all workers closer to $15 an hour minimum wage on a national level.”
Florida’s unemployment rate is moving in the right direction (though the Sunshine State continues to struggle with processing claims) and the state recently voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Though the wage hike is gradual, and won’t actually reach $15 until 2026, many business owners are worried about how they’ll afford to give their employees raises.
Even so, many workers rights advocates are hailing the passage of the bill as a victory and believe that it brings the movement one stop closer to achieving a federally-mandated living wage.
The Latest from Workest
Curious about how Proposition 118 will impact Colorado businesses and workers? Dan Marzullo offers in-depth analysis on the bill that gives workers 12 weeks of paid time off for childbirth or family emergencies.
The weather is turning in many parts of the country, heralding our favorite season: Open Enrollment! Riia O’Donnell analyzes the 4 Major Types of Employee Benefits and how they can help attract and retain top talent.
Finally, before we say good-bye for the week, here are 3 things you should know:
- Small Business Saturday is coming!
- Airlines are beginning to offer free inflight COVID-19 testing (but Bill Gates still doesn’t think business travel will bounce back … )
- Counties with higher unemployment rates voted for Biden.