Changes in Federal and State Laws Due to COVID-19 | March 31, 2020| Article & News


Sonia Montalbano, Business and Employment Attorney 

With the outbreak of COVID-19 businesses are facing an unprecedented set of circumstances, with significant challenges in the days ahead.  Earlier this week there were changes to the laws and regulations applying to many of our clients, sometimes on an almost daily basis.  With the stabilization of these conditions, we are providing you with a summary of modifications to federal and state laws that may potentially impact your business operations in the coming days, as well as suggestions on steps you can take to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on you and your employees.

The deadline to file Federal taxes has been extended through July 15, 2020.  In Oregon, state taxes are due July 15t, 2020, and in Washington, they are due June 15, 2020.  Individuals or business owners in Oregon that pay estimated taxes must still make their April 15th payment.  The deadline for Washington estimated taxes has been extended until June 30, 2020.

Both Oregon and Washington have issued orders requiring all insurance companies to extend grace periods for premium payments, postpone policy cancellations and extensions of other deadlines and non-renewals, and extend deadlines for reporting claims.

The recent changes in Oregon and Washington eviction laws that you may have read about apply only to residential tenants.  Read your lease to see if there is an “Act of God” or “Force Majeure” clause, which could encompass this situation.  Contact an attorney if you have questions or concerns.

New obligations apply to all employers as a result of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a new Federal law.  Businesses with under 500 employees must provide for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and, in some circumstances, up to 12 weeks of paid family leave.  The definition of what qualifies for “leave” has been expanded to include situations caused by COVID-19.  There are maximum amounts paid to employees for each, and you will be reimbursed for payments, so track all amounts paid our and the reason why the employee is paid.

Effective April 2, 2020, employees are entitled to higher payouts of unemployment benefits if they are laid off due to COVID-19.

Individuals may take funds out of the 401k without penalty, although they will have to pay taxes on it, with some limitations.

Although not a comprehensive list, these issues are the most important for business owners at this time. If you have specific questions about how any of these changes apply to your business, and to ensure you are complying with state and federal requirements, contact our office and schedule a phone consultation or video conference with an experienced Business and Employment attorney who can help you protect yourself and your business.

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