Op-ed: Rep. Bock on aid for small businesses

By Rep. Tom Bock

The Covid-19 pandemic is unlike any crisis Vermont has faced. This is a very stressful time for neighbors, as public safety measures have closed many of the businesses and institutions we rely on. I am committed to working with the Scott administration and our congressional delegation to make sure our community is supported during these difficult times.

Last week, the U.S. House  the Vermont House took action to pass a package of Covid-19 relief measures to strengthen our health-care system, address Vermonters’ unemployment insurance needs and transition the legislature to remote meetings. President Trump has since signed the bill into law.
(Due to an editing error, the original text was altered. The correct version is above.)

One of the purposes of the law is to assist with unemployment insurance eligibility so that employees of Covid-19 affected businesses are eligible for unemployment benefits. It supports individuals who need to self-quarantine, are infected or need to care for people who are infected.

Benefits will be paid to employees as a result of a temporary closure of a location, an order issued by the governor or president that affects the employer or to an employee who is temporarily laid off to comply with a quarantine recommendation related to Covid-19.  The law ensures employers’ unemployment insurance experience rating will not be affected by Covid-19 related claims, but the employer must rehire the laid off employees within a reasonable period of time after it resumes operations or once the employee’s period of quarantine is completed. It limits relief to eight weeks of benefits or a longer period that the Commissioner of Labor determines to be appropriate. It also limits an individual’s ability to receive unemployment insurance benefits if he is receiving sick pay, or benefits provided pursuant to federal Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act or federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act benefits.

As of March 20, Vermont small business owners suffering economic injury due to the Covid-19 pandemic can apply for Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Extensive guidance from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development is located by clicking here.

In addition, here are two links that can also serve as helpful guides for small business owners:

The Vermont Statehouse building may be closed, but our work continues. We are completely focused on the next steps to address the Covid-19 emergency. I am committed to working with you as we leverage federal and state resources to address this health crisis. We’re all in this together. Please reach out if you have any questions or feedback — I can always be reached at tbock@leg.state.vt.us or tmbock@vermontel.net.

Tom Bock of Chester represents of Andover, Baltimore, Chester and North Springfield in the State House.

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Filed Under: CommentaryCovid 19 CoverageLocal announcementsOp-ed

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