HOUSTON (April 7, 2020) – LOGIX Fiber Networks, a Texas-based business connectivity company, today announced the launch of the Texas Connected Business Program across Texas. This program is an expansion of LOGIX’s efforts to help businesses navigate challenging disruptions caused by COVID-19
A seemingly overnight transition to a remote workforce is requiring businesses to increase bandwidth and identify solutions for business continuity issues, particularly for those that rely on in-office technology such as desk phones and cloud-based servers.
Through the Texas Connected Business Program, LOGIX is offering six months free on all of its voice and data products, including LOGIX’s Business Voice Cloud solutions, which enables seamless remote collaboration and accessibility, including high-performing voice calls. The Texas Connected Business Program runs through April 30th and also allows businesses to double their bandwidth for free and receive reduced wavelength pricing.
“We know that telecommuting can be a tremendous business adjustment, especially when the world is in such a chaotic state.” said Matt Murphy, CEO of LOGIX. “LOGIX launched the Texas Connected Business Program to help Texas businesses adapt to this new environment as seamlessly as possible and do our part to keep the Texas economy connected, productive and strong.”
Internet speeds, connectivity and capacity are posing serious issues for some connectivity providers across Texas in recent weeks. Cable network providers using second-tier networks and large national carriers serving both residential consumers and businesses in some cities are reportedly struggling to keep up with customer demand resulting in network degradation of up to 40%, slower download speeds, and poor user experience.
However, LOGIX has plenty of available network capacity to help Texas businesses on its built-for-business fiber network. Covering over 650,000 route miles across the top five markets in Texas, the state-of-the-art network can handle more than twice as much traffic as is currently going through the system. Importantly, speed tests as recently as March 30th have shown nearly 100% of LOGIX customers are enjoying bandwidth speeds at or greater than they expected.
In addition to the Texas Connected Business Program, LOGIX has also signed the Federal Communications Commission’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” to help companies impacted by or experiencing disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
HOW LOGIX’S TEXAS CONNECTED BUSINESS PROGRAM WORKS
• Free 6 Months of Service – New customers can get 6 months free service on internet and voice services to help ease concerns around payments and cash flow in the coming months.
• Free Double the Bandwidth – New customers can get double the bandwidth on dedicated internet access orders to help keep remote workforces connect to applications and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
• Drastically Reduced Wavelength Pricing – Special limited time offers to help customers securely transport large amounts of data quickly and efficiently between data centers, carrier hotels and enterprise locations. Special monthly pricing includes 1 Gig wavelength at $600 and 10 Gig at $999 for both legs.
Offer(s) available April 1-30, 2020 for on-net, 36-month term, new customers and new billing products only. Additional terms may apply.
About LOGIX Fiber Networks
LOGIX Fiber Networks is an established fiber-based network infrastructure operator in Texas. LOGIX provides highly secure fiber-based data and voice services as well as data center access to over 10,000 enterprise and carrier customers. Known for its outstanding Texas-based customer service, flexible connectivity options and best-in-class reliability, LOGIX’s built-for-business fiber network delivers the dependability customers need so that they can focus on their business.
LOGIX’s affordable solutions leverage expertise accumulated over its 35-year history. As a nimble, regional player, LOGIX efficiently develops and deploys large-, medium- or small-scale footprints to support its customers’ current and future business requirements. LOGIX offers a broad range of business voice and data options for simple and complex configurations including Business Voice, Business Internet, Business Ethernet, Business Wavelength, Business Voice Cloud, Business Voice Trunks, Data Centers and Cloud Connect.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act is the $2 trillion federal stimulus package you’ve heard about in the media. Known more commonly as the CARES Act, the legislation was signed into law on March 27, 2020, and went into effect immediately.
Designed to address the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the law provides relief for small- and medium-sized businesses facing unprecedented challenges.
About the CARES Act
In a nutshell, the new law:
- Gives eligible small and medium-sized businesses and certain nonprofits a vital infusion of funds needed to remain in business, keep workers employed and help to cover certain financial obligations.
- Delivers a one-time payment to working individuals and married couples with adjusted gross income below certain levels to reduce financial distress
- Earmarks loans for larger companies in deeply impacted industries – such as the airline industry – to help them stay afloat
Take a deeper, more comprehensive look at the CARES Act with our recent webinar, “Opportunities for Small Businesses,” hosted by Insperity’s Tom Himmer, vice president of customer development.
For this blog post, we’ll focus primarily on sharing the broad outlines of the CARES Act’s potential impact on small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits through the Paycheck Protection Program that authorizes up to $349 billion to shore up businesses and jobs.
It’s worth noting that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers additional assistance through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Also, the CARES Act established additional programs to help small businesses struggling with liquidity issues.
Please remember, too, that at the time of this writing, additional guidance and updates are continually being provided by federal agencies to assist in the understanding, implementation and administration of the various programs under the CARES Act.
Paycheck Protection Program
The centerpiece of the CARES act for businesses is the Paycheck Protection Program, and a loan application form is available here.
Qualifying businesses that have suffered significant disruption as a result of COVID-19 are eligible to receive a no-fee Paycheck Protection Loan (PPL).
Eligible small businesses generally include:
- For-profit businesses with less than 500 employees, whether employed on a full-time, part-time or other basis
- 501(c)(3) nonprofits
Note that Accommodation & Food Services businesses (NAICS code starting with 72) are allowed 500 employees per location. In addition, if the business has more than 500 employees but meets the SBA’s industry-based “size standard” requirements for the applicable NAICS code, then the business is also eligible.
Please also note that any relationship with a professional employer organization (PEO) does not impact an employer’s eligibility for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program.
These loans are non-recourse, require no personal guarantee and are unsecured (i.e., no collateral is required). The application form will require various good faith certifications, including that the loan is necessary to support ongoing operations and that the funds will be used to retain employees and maintain payroll or make qualifying mortgage, lease and utility payments.
A portion of your loan that you apply toward payroll and operational costs for the eight-week period after receiving the loan is eligible to be forgiven. As in, you don’t have to pay it back – but only if you use the money for qualifying reasons. The SBA has determined, however, that no more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
Any loan amounts not forgiven will be carried forward as an ongoing loan with a term of two years and 1.0% interest rate, with all payments (principal and interest) deferred for 6 months (although interest will continue to accrue during the 6-month deferment).
Loans are available in amounts up to 2.5 times average monthly “payroll costs” for the last 12 months up to annual rate of pay of $100,000 per employee. Loans may not exceed $10 million.
Payroll costs generally include payments for:
- Salary, wages and commissions
- Payment of cash tips or equivalent
- Covered leave
- Separation allowances
- Group health care benefits, including insurance premiums
- Retirement benefits
- State or local taxes assessed on employee compensation
Payroll costs generally exclude payments for:
- Compensation of an employee in excess of an annual salary of $100,000
- Certain taxes imposed or withheld under the Internal Revenue Code
- Any compensation to an employee whose principal residence is outside the United States
- Qualified sick leave wages and family leave wages for which a credit is allowed under the Families First Corona Virus Response Act (FFCRA).
Loans are available and serviced through existing SBA-certified lenders, including banks, credit unions and other financial institutions. If you need assistance finding a certified lender, reach out to your local SBA office. The CARES Act directs the SBA and the U.S. Treasury to bring additional lenders into the program.
To expedite assistance to businesses, the goal is to seek a quick turnaround from application to disbursement.
Please note that if an employer receives forgiveness of a PPL, that employer may not be eligible for other CARES Act programs. For example, if an employer receives an PPL, the Employee Retention Tax Credit is not available to that employer. In addition, if an employer receives forgiveness of an PPL, then the Payroll Tax Deferment option is not available to that employer.
CARES support for workers and their families
This law provides support to individuals, too, in the wake of the current crisis. Let’s take a brief look at how it may benefit your staff, you and your loved ones.
After all – and more than ever, putting people first is essential.
The CARES Act provides direct support to employees:
- Individuals earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income will receive a maximum of $1,200.
- Married couples filing taxes jointly and earning up to $150,000 in adjusted gross income will receive a maximum of $2,400.
These payments decrease as income increases.
Additionally, individuals or families will receive $500 for each minor child.
For this portion of federal CARES assistance, no action is required from you or your employees. The payments will be mailed to you (if you’re eligible) and your employees automatically from the U.S. Treasury.
Support for the road ahead
At Insperity, our experienced teams remain focused on finding ways that we can assist new and existing clients as they seek assistance under the CARES Act and other programs.
For instance, we’ve provided our clients a paycheck protection loan report to help calculate average monthly “payroll costs” required to secure the loans. We’ve also provided other information to assist our clients getting their loans approved, and we continue to monitor the marketplace to provide additional support as necessary.
Please check out our Covid-19 resource center on our website where we provide lots of great tools and resources to help our clients pursue this unprecedented relief.
New to the idea of PEOs and what a company like Insperity can do for your business, in good times and bad? Unfamiliar with the benefits of HR outsourcing?
We suggest the following blog posts:
PEO benefits: 7 advantages of using a PEO for your business
10 signs your business needs a PEO
For more information and updates specific to the coronavirus pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 resources page.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) is part of the federal government’s effort to minimize the economic impact felt by American families dealing with the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Together with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, also enacted by the U.S. Congress this March, FFCRA seeks to address the following stark realities:
- For many businesses, operations have ceased entirely or have been severely restricted in the wake of the pandemic.
- Without enough incoming revenue, many businesses struggle to pay employees or pay rent on commercial leases, for example.
- Many employees are out of work, either temporarily or permanently, because of furloughs and lay-offs. This has placed many households across the U.S. under incredible financial strain.
- Other employees are unable to work because:
- They’ve been exposed to, show symptoms of, or test positive for COVID-19 and are thus under a quarantine or isolation order from local/state/federal government – or have been advised to quarantine or self-isolate from a health-care provider.
- They’re caring for a sick individual who is under governmental or health care provider orders to self-isolate or quarantine to prevent the spread of infection to someone else.
- They no longer have a source of childcare because of school or childcare closures.
For this post, we’ll focus on what small- to medium-sized businesses need to know about the FFCRA, by explaining in greater detail:
- What the Act is designed to do
- How this legislation affects your company
- How it benefits your employees
About the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The FFCRA – which was passed by Congress and signed by the President on March 18, 2020 – went into effect on April 1, 2020, and sunsets on December 31, 2020.
- Provides federally mandated emergency paid sick leave
- Expands the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and provides emergency provisions for coverage and eligibility
- Expands unemployment insurance benefits
- Provides employer tax credits to qualifying employers for certain costs related to the implementation of this law
While noting that employees who can telework and certain healthcare providers and emergency responders aren’t eligible for the benefits described within this law, let’s take a closer look at each of the above items.
Federally mandated paid sick leave
Usually the laws of the individual states, counties and municipalities in which you operate your business determine whether you’re required to provide paid sick leave to employees.
Under the FFCRA, however, if your business has fewer than 500 employees, you’re required to provide all eligible employees with paid sick leave – regardless of the length of their employment.
6 qualifications for paid sick leave:
- When an employee is quarantined or isolated subject to federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order.
- When advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine (due to concerns related to COVID-19).
- When experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- When caring for an individual doing No. 1 or No. 2 (2/3 pay).
- When caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed due to COVID-19 (2/3 pay).
- When the employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition (2/3 pay).
Part-time or irregularly scheduled employees are entitled to receive paid sick leave based on their average number of hours worked in the six-month period prior to taking sick leave.
Employees who have not worked at your company for six months are entitled to paid sick leave for the average number of hours they would have normally worked over a two-week period.
At the same time, employees are required to comply with your company’s normal policies and procedures outlining notice for requesting sick leave.
And note that this paid sick leave can be applied to the 10-day elimination period for emergency FMLA leave.
Rate of pay
- Sick leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay for leave used for the employee’s own illness, quarantine or care.
- Sick leave must be paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate if taken to care for a family member or to care for a child whose school has closed, or if the employee’s childcare provider is unavailable due to the coronavirus.
- Pay is capped at $511/day and $5,110 total for reasons 1, 2 and 3 described above.
- Pay is capped at $200/day and $2,000 total for reasons 4, 5 and 6 described above.
Small Business Exemption
Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be eligible for an exemption from the childcare leave provisions if at least one of the three statements below are true.
- Providing leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause it to cease operating at a minimal capacity.
- The absence of the employee or employees requesting leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business or responsibilities.
- There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.
Emergency expansion of the FMLA
Under normal circumstances, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 requires your company to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave so that they can deal with personal health or medical issues, or take care of spouses, children or parents.
So, why is there an emergency expansion of FMLA, as well?
Simply put, it’s to provide support for employees caring for a minor child (under 18 years of age) whose school or place of care during the employee’s normal working hours has closed because of COVID-19.
If you have fewer than 500 employees – and you have employees who find themselves in that situation who have been working at your company for at least 30 days, then you now must provide them with up to 12 weeks of job-protected, paid leave.
In addition, note that:
- Emergency FMLA has a 10-day elimination period, during which you’re not required to continue paying employees. Employees can use their accrued time off, including paid sick leave, vacation or other paid time off (PTO) to cover some or all this time. Emergency paid sick leave can also be used during this time.
- Following the elimination period, you must continue paying eligible employees at two-thirds of their regular pay rate for their normally scheduled work hours.
Again, as mentioned earlier, the maximum amount of pay employees can receive is $200 per day, or $10,000 total per employee.
- You must pay part-time or irregularly scheduled employees based on the average number of hours they worked in the six-month period prior to taking emergency FMLA leave. Employees who haven’t worked at your company for six months are entitled to pay based on the number of hours they reasonably expected to work at the time they were hired.
Regarding an employees’ right to return to work after taking leave, remember:
- If you have at least 25 employees, you must comply with the same job-reinstatement requirements for employees who take emergency FMLA leave as traditional FMLA leave requires.
- Employers with fewer than 25 employees generally don’t have to comply with job-reinstatement requirements if the position that an employee held no longer exists because of the economic downturn or any other circumstance arising from COVID-19. That said, there some additional requirements in this situation, spelled out in greater detail on the U.S. Department of Labor’s FFCRA FAQ page.
- If you have fewer than 50 employees and can demonstrate that providing emergency FMLA benefits to employees will jeopardize the viability of your business, you may qualify for an exemption for this component of the Act.
Employer tax credits
Covered employers qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under the FFCRA.
Qualifying wages are those paid to an employee who takes leave under the Act for a qualifying reason, up to the appropriate per diem and aggregate payment caps. Applicable tax credits also extend to amounts paid or incurred to maintain health insurance coverage.
For more information specific to employer tax credits, please see the Department of the Treasury’s website.
Expansion of unemployment benefits
If an employee were to lose their job due to the economic downturn, the current situation may make it harder for them to find a new position.
Consequently, the federal government will provide funding – under certain circumstances – for states’ unemployment insurance activities associated with the payment and processing of unemployment claims. At the time of this writing, however, there is some ambiguity around how this funding will roll out.
As an employer, note that you’re required to notify impacted employees of the availability of unemployment benefits. This must be done when the employee is separated from employment.
Additional employee support
Department of Labor regulations make clear that if a health care provider instructs a person in a vulnerable population to stay home, then they’re covered under the FFCRA.
When an employee is absent from work for a medical reason not covered under FFCRA, employers may opt to place those employees on leave. Then, the employee may apply for disability benefits. Employees may also be subject to traditional FMLA, or employer sponsored PTO and sick leave policies.
Employees who experience furloughs, layoffs or are unable to work because their employers are no longer able to pay them, however, may wish to file for unemployment.
Informing employees about FFCRA
As an employer, you’re required by law to alert your employees about FFCRA.
This means displaying a FFCRA poster outlining employee rights in a conspicuous location within your workplace. In this era of social distancing and remote working, you can also satisfy this requirement by emailing or mailing this information to your employees.
For more information on where, how and with whom to share FFCRA notices, please see the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.
Additional FFCRA information
As guidance for business owners and leaders is update, check the following places for more information:
Dept. of Labor’s draft instructions on how to access and administer payroll tax credits. Once final instructions are released, they will be listed here.
Summing it all up
Through emergency FMLA leave and paid sick leave, the FFCRA aims to give working Americans a little extra peace of mind. With the Act in place, the hope is that they’ll continue to cover their necessities – such as mortgages, rent, bills, medication and food – during this uncertain time.
Through expanded unemployment benefits, your employees will have assurance that – should they lose their job through no fault of their own – they can still provide for themselves and their families during what could be a prolonged job search.
Beyond the federal requirements outlined in the Act described above, employers may also want to consider:
- Whether your employees might work remotely – and what actions may be necessary to facilitate their switch to remote work, since so doing may benefit both your business and your team
- The structure and flow of your current leave request process, including whether your employees know where or how to access information on emergency paid sick leave or emergency FMLA
Remember, too, that in times like these, a trusted professional employer organization (PEO) can provide valuable HR guidance and support, helping you minimize compliance risks.
Here at Insperity, we remain dedicated to helping existing and new clients alike reduce liabilities and proactively manage employer responsibilities. Why? Because we know that as a savvy business leader, you’re as concerned about protecting your people and your business now as you will be for years to come.
For more information and updates specific to the Coronavirus pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 resources page.