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On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law and went into effect, under the supervision of the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, beginning April 2, 2020, up through December 31, 2020.

The two primary provisions of the FFCRA are Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA).  Unfortunately, employers may elect not to pay employees who are classified as health care providers or emergency responders under both the EPSLA and EFMLEA, however, they do have obligations to other categories of employees, which are discussed in more detail below.

In order to receive either EPSL or EFMLEA, an employee must provide their employer (either orally or in writing) with the following documentation:

The full extent of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to be determined, but many Massachusetts businesses are already suffering.  Those businesses may have insurance coverage available to help them survive this unprecedented economic disaster.  Unfortunately, however, insurance companies are already outright denying claims, often wrongfully, and may be exposing themselves to substantial lawsuits and verdicts for engaging in unfair and deceptive business practices.

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What is Business Interruption Coverage?

Most commercial property insurance policies provide coverage for business income loss by adding an endorsement to the insured’s property policy. This endorsement is designed to protect the insured for losses of business income it sustains as a result of direct loss, damage, or destruction to insured property by a covered peril. Although many such clauses are in use today, a typical business income insurance clause reads as follows:

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On Friday, April 3, 2020, the Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Emergency Situations (HEROES) Act of 2020 was formally introduced for consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Bill Huizenga of Michigan.  The bill, formally known as H.R.6433, is currently pending and has been referred to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee for consideration.

The HEROES Act, if passed into law, would apply to counties where there is at least one positive COVID-19 patient and would provide four-months of federal income tax relief to those fighting on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Frontline workers under the bill would include medical/healthcare professionals such as nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, hospital and licensed medical facility support staff, pharmacists, and senior care facility staff, as well as first responders such as paramedics, EMT’s, firefighters, corrections officers, and law enforcement officers.

The legislation also would afford the Secretary of the Treasury discretion to extend the federal tax relief for up to three additional months, if deemed appropriate.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Provides Broad Relief for Federal Student Loan Borrowers

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Professionals with federal student loan debt may be entitled to some relief under the newly enacted CARES Act.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid has automatically placed federal student loan borrowers in “Administrative Forbearance,” which enables borrowers to temporarily stop making monthly student loan payments from March 13, 2020 up through September 30, 2020.

Philanthropic and governments across Massachusetts are setting up funds to support organizations and communities that have been impacted by the coronavirus. See below for a list of funds.

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State Senator Michael O. Moore of Worcester and State Representative James Arciero have presented an emergency bill known as S2602 (an identical emergency bill is pending in the House as well, known as H4927).  Interested members of the public are invited to give testimony (via written submissions due to Covid-19 social distancing guidelines) today, April 6 2020.

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The bill provides that all police, fire personnel, correction officers, dispatchers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, nursing professionals, and all individuals employed and considered as 1st responders, who contract, have symptoms of, or otherwise becomes affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), that results in a period of hospitalization, quarantine, or require self-quarantined measures as a result of being infected or coming into contact with someone who is infected with this virus, shall have their medical condition or incapacity to work presumed to be work-related.  This means the amount of time the public safety official is incapacitated or unable to perform their  duties as a result of COVID-19 shall be considered on duty time, and that the public safety official shall not be required to use sick time, vacation time, personal time or any other contractual time-off to cover said period of incapacitation or inability to perform regular duty work.  The time of incapacitation or inability to perform their duties shall be considered as “emergency hazard health duty.”

In short, this bill means that first responders and public safety officials will not have to use sick time or vacation time if they have to take time away from work due to COVID-19 and will continue to receive their pay.  To voice your support, call your State Representative and State Senator today!  You can learn more about the law here:

Attention all small business owners, sole proprietors, and independent contractors!  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was recently signed into law.  Hundreds of billions of dollars have been set aside to help your business survive these uncertain times.  The text of the law itself is hundreds of pages of long.  To try and help, we have prepared a basic guide to the most important provisions of the law as far as your business is concerned:  the Paycheck Protection Program; Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants; Small Business Debt Relief Program; Small Business Tax Provisions; and Small Business Counseling.  For more detailed information about any of these topics, or the CARES Act generally, be sure to visit the Small Business Administration’s website at https://www.sba.gov.   For starters, here are some of the most important provisions of the stimulus package:

Small Business Debt Relief Program

If your small business or sole proprietorship already has a non-disaster loan through the Small Business Administration, or takes out such a loan in the next six months, the SBA is offering immediate payment relief.

Your Guide to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was recently signed into law.  Hundreds of billions of dollars have been set aside to help your business survive these uncertain times.  The text of the law itself is hundreds of pages of long.  To try and help, we have prepared a basic guide to the most important provisions of the law as far as your business is concerned:  the Paycheck Protection Program; Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants; Small Business Debt Relief Program; Small Business Tax Provisions; and Small Business Counseling.  For more detailed information about any of these topics, or the CARES Act generally, be sure to visit the Small Business Administration’s website at https://www.sba.gov.

Paycheck Protection Program

Can a Massachusetts prosecutor use a defendant’s refusal to take a breathalyzer test as evidence of drunk driving? The short answer is no, but understanding why this is the answer is a bit more complicated.

Everyone is familiar with the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution’s provision that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” We’ve all heard someone – maybe on a TV show or maybe even in person – ‘plead the fifth’ by refusing to answer questions in some formal, legal setting.

What fewer people may know is that the Massachusetts Constitution’s protections against self-incrimination are even broader those contained in the Fifth Amendment. Under the Massachusetts Constitution, in addition to being entitled to refuse to be “a witness against himself,” a defendant also has the right not to “be compelled to . . . furnish evidence against himself.” While the difference in language is slight, its implications in drunk driving cases is very significant

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