State expands biz recovery grants to some owners; hazard pay grants now available

Gov. Phil Scott and agencies in Vermont announced two new programs today to help  small business owners as well as front-line workers who have been financially impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The state is extending benefits to business owners who file a W-2 for themselves or for at least one employee. Photo by Ketut Subiyanto for Pexels.

Scott, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Department of Taxes have expanded the eligibility for Economic Recovery Grants for Vermont businesses. Under the original eligibility criteria, a business was required to have at least one W-2 employee who was not an owner of that business.

Starting on Monday, Aug. 3, businesses with at least one W-2 employee – now including those who are an owner – are also eligible and encouraged to apply. A W-2 is a wage and tax statement sent to employees at the end of the year.

Also announced, was a hazard pay grant fund for front-line employees who have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Businesses of all sizes are doing everything they can to survive under the difficult circumstances caused by this pandemic, and it’s our responsibility to step up and support them in the recovery,” said Gov. Scott. “We are hopeful these new requirements will provide some additional relief as we continue to rebuild together and emerge from this crisis stronger than before.”

Business program expansion

More than $78 million has already been awarded to Vermont businesses but funds are still available. Businesses are encouraged to apply if they have experienced losses of at least 50 percent in the month of July 2020 (compared to July 2019) and have not already received a grant. Businesses that may not have been eligible earlier in the year are encouraged to re-evaluate their losses for the month of July as they may now be eligible.

Businesses that chose not to apply, or already applied and were deemed ineligible and believe they may be eligible under these new criteria, are encouraged to contact the Department of Taxes at 802-828-6611 or ACCD at 802-828-1200 to learn more. Those who have not yet submitted an application are encouraged to do so and can learn more by clicking this link.

Hazard pay grants funds for front-line workers

Scott also announced that beginning Tuesday, Aug. 4, public safety, public health, health care and human services employers whose employees worked to help mitigate or respond to Covid-19 may apply for hazard pay grant funds for their employees.


Hazard pay grant funds available for front-line employees. Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

The Front-Line Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program was established in Act 136 of 2020 using Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars to pay eligible employees who worked during the Covid-19 public health emergency from March 13 through May 15, 2020.

The Hazard Pay Program allows covered employers to request funding to provide $1,200 or $2,000 in hazard pay to each employee who meets eligibility criteria. Eligibility is determined by conditions outlined by the Legislature in Act 136, including the risk of exposure to Covid-19, number of hours worked and employee’s hourly wage.

Grants will be awarded through an online application process and funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis until the Program’s $28 million is allocated. When employers who applied are approved, they will receive the award amount.

Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said, “We are encouraging employers to apply to make sure these critically important employees receive recognition and compensation to reflect the work they did keeping Vermonters safe during the crisis.”

Covered employers eligible to apply on behalf of their employees are defined by Act 136 to include:

  • Ambulance service or first responder service as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 2651
  • Assisted living residence as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 7102
  • Dentist’s office or a dental facility
  • Federally qualified health center, rural health clinic, or clinic for the uninsured
  • Health care facility as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 9432 or a physician’s office
  • Home health agency as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 6302
  • Homeless shelter
  • Morgue
  • Nursing home residence as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 7102
  • Provider of necessities and services to vulnerable or disadvantaged populations
  • Residential care home as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 7102
  • Residential treatment program licensed by the Department for Children and Families
  • Therapeutic community residence as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 7102
  • Therapy provider contracted by a home health agency or nursing home

For more information, to apply using the online application and to sign up to receive periodic updates, please visit the Agency of Human Services’ website here.

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