Business Protections Featured in Congress’ COVID Relief Negotiations

This week, Republicans in the U.S. Senate released their proposal for another COVID-19 relief package titled the Heath, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, which includes extended PPP loans and employer liability protection.

This week, Republicans in the U.S. Senate led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released their proposal for another COVID-19 relief package titled the Heath, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act. As the much-anticipated follow-up to the CARES Act from March, the proposal includes provisions that benefit workforce mobility and small businesses, including extended PPP loans and employer liability protections, for which Worldwide ERC® has advocated for in letters to Congress and with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

What is included in the HEALS Act?

The Heath, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act includes a handful of bills, one of which is the Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act, which creates a second loan from the Paycheck Protection Program for currently and previously eligible businesses. In Worldwide ERC®’s letters to Congress, we requested that additional funds be allocated, as many small businesses have run out of the initially allocated funds. As travel restrictions have made it more difficult for workforce mobility’s small business members to remain financially viable and maintain staff, additional loans would ensure continued recovery.

The HEALS Act also includes the Safe to Work Act, which focuses on liability protection for employers as they work to safely reopen their businesses. Thousands of coronavirus-related lawsuits have been filed against employers, putting businesses and individuals at risk for additional financial hardship. Worldwide ERC® has advocated for a balanced approach to help provide employers with liability protections as they reopen workplace and relocate employees, while also releasing the Workforce Mobility Safety Framework to provide guidance to employers as they consider ensuring workforce mobility safety. Worldwide ERC® also signed onto a letter of 480 associations led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce advocating for business liability protections provided in the Safe to Work Act.

What is the status of the HEALS Act in Congress?

This new proposal costs around $1 trillion and will be negotiated alongside the $3 trillion Democrat-led HEROES Act that passed the House of Representatives in May. While both bills agree on another $1,200 stimulus check to American workers, items from the HEROES Act that were omitted from the HEALS Act include the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), among other items. Additionally, the Administration is considering short-term extension of additional unemployment benefits which run out at end of July, as well as extending the recently expired eviction moratorium. Democrats and Republicans in both chambers will need to negotiate these details in the coming weeks in order to secure bipartisan support before their August recess.

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How This Impacts Mobility

While the allocated funds and protections released with the CARES Act in March provided a substantial amount of support to businesses and individuals, additional relief is needed to support their continued recovery. The provisions in the HEALS Act, such as the extended PPP loans and new employer liability protections, ensure that the workforce mobility industry can continue to help businesses recover and return safely back to work. Worldwide ERC® will continue to provide updates on the package’s negotiations, and should any member have questions regarding its contents, please reach out to Vice President, Member Engagement and Public Policy Rebecca Peters, rpeters@worldwideerc.org.

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