Comprehensive Legislative Proposals to Address COVID-19 Impact

On April1, 2020, Governor Evers announced a second package of legislative proposals to support Wisconsin businesses and citizens who continue to confront unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. This second proposed package is intended to supplement the Governor’s first piece of proposed legislation which included additional funding for public health and healthcare professionals, a waiver of the customary one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance, and other assistance for Wisconsin organizations, residents and communities.

Wisconsin employers should note that key provisions of today’s proposed legislation would include the following:

  • Provide additional funds to WEDC so that it can: expand its Small Business 20/20 Program, which provides grants to small businesses to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19; and provide additional grants to small businesses to help them restart operations after the Public Health Emergency.
  • Reimburse all claims paid from the Unemployment Insurance trust fund related to the Public Health Emergency that are not otherwise federally funded. This will ensure that businesses do not experience a significant UI tax increase in the future as a result of layoffs caused by the pandemic.
  • Allow employers to continue to voluntarily, partially pay laid-off employees without adversely affecting that employee’s eligibility for unemployment insurance.
  • Provides state-funded back pay to any worker who loses unemployment insurance benefits because the state is delayed in suspending its one-week waiting period (as required to ensure receipt of the $600 weekly pandemic unemployment insurance benefit under CARES Act).
    • Allow critical workers, including healthcare workers, to claim workers’ compensation benefits related to COVID-19, presuming that they received the illness because of their occupation.
  • Provide grant funding to support emergency food bank operations.
  • Provide grant funding to support public-private partnerships between restaurants and entities that provide meals and meal delivery programs to those Wisconsinites who are vulnerable to food insecurity.
  • Grant state and local authorities enhanced authority to waive interest, penalties and payments on government loans and debt during the Public Health Emergency.
  • Create a grant program to provide hazard pay to critical workers (working in critical infrastructure or in a vital sector) and first responders.
  • Provide supplemental payments to childcare providers who were forced to shut down during the Public Health Emergency.

As of the date of this release, the Legislature has not formally addressed or acted upon Governor Evers’ recent legislative proposals. He has invited them to respond or submit additional or alternative proposals as soon as possible. We do not know if or when the legislature will act on this.

The legal and HR team at Lake Effect is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace. Keep watching for new blogs  or subscribe to our mailing list for important legal updates and HR best practices. If you have any questions regarding our quick tips, the attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to help. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

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