Business & Workforce Resources

CDC: Workplace Decision Tree Documents for Helping Businesses with Deciding to Open

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently created a series of one page "decision tree" documents for businesses and workplaces to help guide them as the make decisions on whether or not to open and how to protect vulnerable workers.

Governor’s Order for May 14-31

The 30-page Executive Order from Governor Kemp issued on May 12 provides updated information about shelter-in-place and business requirements from May 14-31. Read a PDF of the full order.

This is a statewide order that suspends any local ordinance that is more or less restrictive. There are no current Athens-Clarke County specific restrictions as they are pre-empted by this order.

Some brief notes about the new order:

Personal

  • The order is effective May 14-31 unless otherwise specified.
  • Practice social distancing (staying at least 6’ away from other people, avoid assembling in groups, avoid crowded places, and avoid large crowds).
  • Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear face coverings outside of their homes.
  • Those who are higher risk of severe illness as defined in the order are required to Shelter-in-Place within homes or residences through June 12.


Governor Kemp's Office Basic Rules for Business


Business

Businesses - including non-profits, organizations, establishments, corporations - fall into one of three categories:

  1. Critical infrastructure - Defined by U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  2. Not critical infrastructure
  3. Businesses that must cease in-person operations - bars, nightclubs, operators of amusement park rides, and live performance venuesBelow are some of the requirements and guidelines. For more specifics, please visit the Georgia Department of Economic Development website at www.georgia.org/covid19bizguide.

Businesses that Must Cease In-Person Operations

Bars, nightclubs, operators of amusement park rides, and live performance venues must continue to stay closed through May 31.

Critical Infrastructure

Must implement measures to mitigate exposure and spread of COVID-19, which may include 17 measures in the order. (U.S. Department of Homeland Security definitions of critical infrastructure).

  • Guidelines for healthcare industry, including dental practices and clinics, licensed optometrists, licensed opticians, and ambulatory surgical centers are referenced in the order in addition to following guidelines for critical infrastructure.

Not Critical Infrastructure

Must implement 22 measures and should implement 3 additional measures, if practicable.

  • Don’t allow gatherings of more than 10 people at a single location if persons are required to stand or be seated within 6 feet of any other person
  • Restaurants and dining services are allowed no more than 10 patrons per 300 square feet of public space and must implement 39 measures.
  • Food establishments such as retail and wholesale grocery stores must also implement 6 additional measures to the 22 measures for businesses above, as well as some additional measures, which may include 13 measures mentioned in the order.
  • Gyms and fitness centers must also implement 19 additional measures to the 22 measures mentioned above.
  • Body art studios, estheticians, hair designers, persons licensed to practice massage therapy, and tanning facilities must also implement an additional 13 measures to the 22 measures mentioned above.
  • Indoor movie theatres and cinemas must also implement 8 additional measures to the 22 measures mentioned above.
  • Bowling alleys must also implement 11 additional measures to the 22 measures mentioned above.
  • Child care learning centers and family child learning homes under the jurisdiction of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) are allowed 20 persons to gather if keeping with DECAL staff-child ratios and must also implement an additional 13 measures to the 22 measures for businesses mentioned above.
  • Summer camps must also implement an additional 33 measures to the 22 mentioned above. Summer camps cannot host campers overnight until authorized by the Georgia Department of Public Health. 
  • Persons working outdoors without regular contact with other persons, such as delivery services, contractors, landscape businesses, and agricultural industry services shall only be required to practice social distancing and implement sanitation processes in the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

While the statewide order is in effect, all local ordinances that are more restrictive or less restrictive than the statewide order are suspended.

Key Links:

Free Online Courses from the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education

Need some resources to help pivot your business online? The University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel is offering no-cost, self-paced online courses that can help. They are available through June 30, 2020, and include website coding and online business marketing. https://www.georgiacenter.uga.edu/courses/free-job-skills

Business Impact Survey - Updated April 29

To best assist businesses in Athens-Clarke County during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACC Economic Development Department is conducting a survey for business leaders to report ongoing effects of the pandemic on their workforce and business operations.

This survey takes approximately 7 minutes to complete and will help inform local leaders on issues you are facing during this pandemic. All responses will remain anonymous and will be reported in aggregate. The survey is available at www.accgov.com/cvbusinesssurvey.

Got Questions? New Athens Business Support Email at BusinessSupport@accgov.com

The ACCGov Economic Development Department is partnering with other local entities on a business support email hotline at BusinessSupport@accgov.com to answer your questions and share info with local businesses.

If you have questions related to coronavirus concerns for your business or seeking help with business / workforce / non-profit resources and opportunities, send an email to BusinessSupport@accgov.com and have your questions answered by ACCGov Economic Development or a local partner organization.

Community partners that will help answer questions include the Athens-Clarke Economic Development Department; the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce; Blasingame, Burch, Garrard and Ashley; Fortson, Bentley and Griffin; UGA Small Business Development Center - Athens Center; and the Athens Downtown Development Authority.
 
In addition to providing direct responses to questions, ACCGov will post answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the ACCGov Business & Workforce Resources web page.

IRS: Employee Retention Tax Credit


The Employee Retention Credit is a refundable tax credit against certain employment taxes equal to 50% of the qualified wages an eligible employer pays to employees after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021.

Eligible employers can get immediate access to the credit by reducing employment tax deposits they are otherwise required to make. Also, if the employer’s employment tax deposits are not sufficient to cover the credit, the employer may get an advance payment from the IRS.

For each employee, wages (including certain health plan costs) up to $10,000 can be counted to determine the amount of the 50% credit. Because this credit can apply to wages already paid after March 12, 2020, many struggling employers can get access to this credit by reducing upcoming deposits or requesting an advance credit on Form 7200, Advance of Employer Credits Due To COVID-19.

Employers, including tax-exempt organizations, are eligible for the credit if they operate a trade or business during calendar year 2020 and experience either:

  • the full or partial suspension of the operation of their trade or business during any calendar quarter because of governmental orders limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to COVID-19, or
  • a significant decline in gross receipts. 

For more information, view Frequently Asked Questions and visit: www.irs.gov/coronavirus/employee-retention-credit

Small Business Information and Resources

Please share this information with your network and neighboring businesses.

Contact Your Lender(s)

Federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans

If your Athens-Clarke County business has suffered substantial economic injury and is one of the following types of businesses, you may be eligible for U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL):  

  • Small Business
  • Small agricultural cooperative
  • Most private nonprofit organizations

Overview and how to apply: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/EIDLLoans

Application deadline: December 18, 2020.

More details: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Documents/Three_Step_Process_SBA_Disaster_Loans.pdf

 

Unemployment Claims Information

For Employers

Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) services & resources are available at dol.georgia.gov/.

GDOL Athens Career Center: Currently closed to the public to protect its employees and customers. The center remains open for GDOL employees to ensure support for customer needs and to continue processing unemployment claims.

Employers are mandated by the state to electronically file partial claims on behalf of your employees whenever it is necessary to temporarily lay workers off, including reducing their work hours or temporarily closing due to COVID-19. Filing partial claims results in your employees receiving unemployment insurance benefit payments faster, usually within 48 hours for claims filed electronically.

All Georgia employers share in the cost of the unemployment benefits paid to employees temporarily displaced due to COVID-19. If you do not electronically file partial claims on behalf of your employees, however, your business will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of the unemployment benefits paid to your employee(s).

For Residents 

Your Employer May Be Filing Your Claim For You

  • The Georgia Department of Labor currently requires employers to file partial claims online on behalf of their employees. These claims will be for any week during which an employee worked less than his or her regular full-time or part-time schedule due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.  
  • If your employer is filing a partial claim, you do not need to file. Talk to your employer.  Tell your employer whether or not you want taxes withheld. If you have taxes withheld, GDOL with withhold 10% for federal taxes and 6% for state taxes.
  • Unemployment benefits are paid on a weekly basis.  Payments will be released within 24 hours after your employer files a partial claim on your behalf.
  • If you file your own claim, your payments will be released once a written determination to allow benefits is released.

You do not have to go to the Department of Labor

The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has temporarily suspended in-person requirements for services provided by the agency.  GDOL is providing online access to unemployment services at dol.georgia.gov/

Please remember, your claim may be delayed due to overwhelming requests for service due to COVID-19.  

  • If you are sent home due to lack of work because of COVID-19 and you are not getting paid for time off you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits.  
  • If your employer is filing partial claims for you, you do not need to file.
  • If you quit your job or voluntarily choose to stay out of work due to COVID-9, you must file your own claim. GDOL will review your claim and determine eligibility.
  • If both you and your employer filed a claim, contact the local career center at dol.georgia.gov. 
  • Unemployment payments will be made by direct deposit or Georgia UI Way2Go Debit Mastercard.
  • Extended unemployment benefits are not available at this time.
  • If you chose to not work due to fear of exposure to COVID-19, GDOL will determine eligibility on a case by case basis.


How to File an Unemployment Claim

Gather your information

  • You will need:
  • Social security number
  • Georgia Driver’s License if you have one
  • Bank’s routing and account number (if you want to receive your benefit payments via direct deposit)
  • Work history information for the last 18 months

File your claim online

  • Go to https://dol.georgia.gov/.
  • Select the link labeled “Apply for Unemployment Benefits”.
  • Answer the questions completely. Report gross wages and any leave pay as earnings for each week claimed for benefits.
  • Download the “Claimant Handbook” and read it.  This handbook has a section called “next steps” that you will need to follow to submit your claim.
  • Record your confirmation number. A confirmation email is sent to the email address that you provide.
  • If you do not receive a confirmation number, the application was not successfully submitted. Log in again within 24 hours and make sure you select FINISH to receive a confirmation number.  An incomplete application is only kept on the system for 24 hours.  If you do not submit it, you will have to start over.

What do I do after I file?

  • Request your weekly benefit payment every week at https://dol.georgia.gov/.
  • On the first Sunday after filling your claim login and select “Claim Weekly UI Benefits Payments” on the GDOL home page or by calling the interactive voice response system at 1-886-598-4164.
  • Monitor your voicemail and email. GDOL will contact you if they require additional information.
  • Respond immediately to all requests for additional information.
  • You will not have to report to a career center.
  • If you have claimed a week of benefits and have not received your written “Claims Examiner’s Determination” within 21 days of the filed date, you may call UI Customer Service at 404.232.3001 (in Metro Atlanta) or 1.877.709.8185 (in all other areas).
  • For additional information or to submit a claim, please visit https://dol.georgia.gov/.

The Department of Labor will allow you to file a claim and get information by phone, although you may experience long wait times. Call the Athens DOL Career Center at (706) 583-2834.


Athens-Clarke County Unified Government Business Support

Athens-Clarke County Department of Economic Development is available remotely via phone, email, and video conferencing to assist with your business needs and help direct you to available resources.

The Mayor & Commission voted on March 19 to utilize the remaining $3 million from the county’s “prosperity package” passed as part of the 2020 budget to financial assistance for laid-off workers, small businesses, and nonprofits.