VFA COVID-19 RESOURCE PAGE

On behalf of the Board and staff of the Virginia Forestry Association, we hope that you, your families, your colleagues, and your employees are and remain healthy during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

VFA is committed to providing Virginia’s forestry community with factual, reliable, and timely information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including its impact on companies, employees and individuals in the forestry supply chain.

COVID-19 Page Menu
 
Guidance: Operating a Virginia Forestry/Forest Products Business During COVID-19
 

On July 27, 2020, the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board published an Emergency Workplace Standard for COVID-19. The drafting and adoption of this standard, which will be administered by the Virginia Department of Labor & Industry, was directed by Governor Ralph Northam in Executive Order 63. (PRESS RELEASE: Virginia Adopts First-in-the-Nation Workplace Safety Standards for COVID-19 Pandemic)

The emergency standard applies to "every employer, employee, and place of employment in the Commonwealth of Virginia within the jurisdiction of the VOSH program," regardless of size or business type. Upon publication, the regulation formally went into effect and will last for a period of six months, unless a permanent standard is adopted or the Governor's emergency declaration expires prior to that. 

IMPORTANT: Fines for violations could range from $13,000 to $130,000, and may increase for repeat offenders.

Summary: VA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Workplace Standard

Under the emergency temporary workplace standard, ALL Virginia employers must:

  • Classify employees by risk level based on workplace hazards and job tasks, and implement the applicable engineering, administrative, and work practice controls as outlined in the Emergency Regulation;
    • Employers with hazards or job tasks classified “Very high,” “High,” or with eleven (11) or more employees with “Medium” hazards shall develop and implement a written Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan, including training on the hazards and characteristics of COVID-19 and procedures to minimize these hazards.
    • Jobs with minimal contact with others are “Lower” exposure risks, but still have to follow applicable engineering, administrative, and work practice controls outlined in the regulation.
  • Require workers to maintain social distancing;
  • Require workers in customer-facing positions where social distancing is not possible to wear face coverings;
  • Provide frequent hand-washing or sanitizing for employees;
  • Regularly clean high-contact surfaces;
  • Implement a system for self-assessment and screening for signs and symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Implement procedures that will prevent sick employees or others from infecting healthy workers;
  • Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies;
  • Close or control access to common areas, breakrooms, and lunchrooms;
  • Notify all employees at a specific worksite when an employee at that worksite tests positive for COVID-19 within 24 hours of the employer being notified. Employees known or suspected to be positive for COVID-19 are to be barred from returning to work for ten days, or until they receive negative results from two consecutive COVID-19 tests. In addition,
  • The Virginia Department of Health (VDOH) must be notified within 24 hours of the discovery of a positive case.
  • The VDOLI must be notified within 24 hours of the discovery of three (3) or more employees present at the place of employment within a 14-day period testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus during that 14-day time period.
  • Not discharge or discriminate against an employee for exercising rights under the Emergency Regulations or raising a reasonable concern about infection control related to COVID-19.

Source: InspiringHR

 

Forestry businesses are strongly encouraged to assign a company point person to become familiar with the rules and determine if you need additional resources to help you comply with the standard.

Though VFA will continue to update links to resources below as they become available, we are unable provide legal or compliance advice. We encourage you to contact legal and human resource professionals should you have questions regarding your specific operation.

VA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard - Compliance Resources
 

VA Department of Labor & Industry: DOLI COVID-19 ETS Outreach, Education and Training Page

DOLI's COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) page above contains all of the information regarding complaince with the standard. In addition to the full text of the standard and a link to DOLI's COVID-19 Employer Reporting page, the site contains numerous presentations, templates and documents intended to assist employers with thier complaince requirements.

JacksonLewis Law Firm: Webinar on COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

Only July 29, 2020, NFIB and the Virginia Manufacturer's Association hosted former Virginia Labor Commissioner, current business representative on the VA Safety & Health Codes Board and attorney Courtney Malveaux for a webinar to examine basic requirements under the standard. For a copy of the slides that accompanied Mr. Malveaux's presentation, click here.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
 

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL): FFCRA Paid Sick Leave & Expanded Family Leave Poster

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, includes requirements that certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

All businesses covered by the law (i.e. private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees) are required by law to post the FFCRA Paid Sick Leave & Expanded Family Leave poster above.

 
Resources: Small Businesses
 
Federal and state governments are implementing a number of initiatives and programs to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources include:
 
COVID-19 Business Loans
 
The U.S. Congress has authorized loan programs to assist small businesses in maintaining operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) continues to provide updates to the status of various loan programs that are available to businesses, including the he Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and other SBA loan deferrment options. Please visit the link below for the latest information on federal lending programs:
 
National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB): Guide to Federal Lending Options Page
 
COVID-19 Tax Relief
 

CARES Act Corporate Tax Relief Provisions

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, otherwise referred to as "Phase 3" or "Stimulus," was signed into law by President Trump on March 28, 2020. Among relief measures for corporations were a number of tax credits, deferrals, and other modifications. According to the Forest Resources Association (FRA), specific CARES Act corporate tax relief measures include:

Net Operating Losses (NOLs) - The CARES Act relaxes limitations on a company’s use of losses from prior years. The CARES Act allows losses from 2018, 2019, or 2020 to be carried back five years. The provision also temporarily removes the taxable income limitation to allow an NOL to fully offset income. The goal of this language is to allow companies to utilize losses and amend prior years’ returns, which will provide critical cash flow and liquidity during the COVID-19 emergency.

Deferred Social Security Tax Payment - The CARES Act allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees. Employers generally are responsible for paying a 6.2-percent Social Security tax on employee wages. The provision requires that the deferred employment tax be paid over the following two years, with half of the amount required to be paid by December 31, 2021 and the other half by December 31, 2022.

Refundable Payroll Tax Credit - The CARES Act authorizes a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers whose (1) operations were fully or partially suspended, due to a COVID-19-related shut-down order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year. The credit is based on qualified wages paid to the employee. For employers with greater than 100 full-time employees, qualified wages are wages paid to employees when they are not providing services due to the COVID-19-related circumstances described above.

Corporate AMT Credits - The corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT) was repealed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but corporate AMT credits were made available as refundable credits over several years, ending in 2021. The CARES Act accelerates the ability of companies to recover those AMT credits, permitting companies to claim a refund now and obtain additional cash flow during the COVID-19 emergency.

Business Interest Deduction Expansion - The CARES Act temporarily increases the amount of interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns, by increasing the 30-percent limitation to 50 percent of taxable income (with adjustments) for 2019 and 2020. As businesses look to weather the storm of the current crisis, this provision will allow them to increase liquidity with a reduced cost of capital, so that they are able to continue operations and keep employees on payroll.

S-Corp and Pass Throughs - The CARES Act modifies the limitation on losses for taxpayers other than corporations. The provision modifies the loss limitation applicable to pass-through businesses and sole proprietors, so they can utilize excess business losses and access critical cash flow to maintain operations and payroll for their employees. 

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Additional IRS COVID-19 Relief and Updates

Includes additional information on IRS relief measures, including: agency operations, paid leave for workers, eligibility of high-deductible health plans to cover COVID-19 expenses.

Virginia Department of Taxation: Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic

The Virginia Department of Taxation is providing updates to inform indivudals and businesses of tax requirements and relief efforts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional COVID-19 Business Relief Measures

Virginia State Corporation Commission: Suspension of Utility Cut-Off

The suspension of Utility Disconnections was extended until August 31, 2020.

BACK TO TOP

Resources: Landowners

Landowner Guidance: COVID-19
  
Virginia Department of Forestry/Virginia Cooperative Extension: PAUSE. PLAN. ACT.
 
The Virginia Department of Forestry and Virginia Cooperative Extension have developed a guidance document for forest landowners during the COVID-19 pandemic. In times of financial uncertainty, a "forest savings account" may provide a welcome source of financial relief. However, landowners should exercise caution in making the best decision possible while avoiding the potential for scams.
 
 
Virginia Cooperative Extension: Webinar: Virtual Woods Walk - Selling Timber
 
On April 15, 2020, Virginia Cooperative Extension hosted a webinar on Selling Timber. The 45-minute session covered the basics of selling timber in current times, including: how to sell timber, forest management, and avoiding timber theft. You may find information about how to access the April 15th webinar at the link provided above 
 

BACK TO TOP

Resources: Individuals and Employees

Federal and state governments are implementing a number of initiatives and programs to support employees who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources include:

Unemployment Benefits
 
 
Virginia employees may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19. Governor Northam has directed that the one week waiting period and the requirement to conduct a weekly job search both be suspended for those receiving unemployment insurance benefits.
 
CARES Act Unemployment Provisions
 
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, otherwise referred to as "Phase 3" or "Stimulus," was signed into law by President Trump on March 28, 2020. Among relief measures for individuals was the expansion of emergency unemployment insurance benefits for individuals affected by the pandemic. According to the National Law Review, specific emergency unemployment benefits in the CARES Act include:
 
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program - The CARES Act creates a temporary, federally funded program providing unemployment benefits to individuals who otherwise would be ineligible for such benefits under state or federal law – such as individuals who are self-employed (for example, consultants or independent contractors), who are seeking part-time employment, or who lack sufficient work history. The program will cover any individual who: (1) is not otherwise eligible for, or has exhausted all rights to, unemployment benefits; and (2) is unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work because of COVID-19-related circumstances.
 
Additional UI Payment - The CARES Act allows individuals who are otherwise eligible for unemployment benefits under state or federal law to receive an additional $600 per week, in addition to their regular unemployment compensation under state law, through July 2020.
 
Federal Support for Week One UI Benefit - The CARES Act will allow the federal government to fully fund the cost of an individuals first week of UI benefits if a state has waived the one week waiting period requirement. Governor Northam waived Virginia's one week waiting requirement on March 15, 2020.
 
Extension of UI Benefits - The CARES Act will fund an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits if individuals remain unemployed after their state benefits are exhausted. The additional 13 weeks will be provided to unemployed individuals at a weekly rate of $600. For Virginia, this increases to unemployment benefits for individuals up to 39 weeks. 

Direct Stimulus Payments
 
CARES Act Economic Impact Payments: IRS Economic Impact Payments (Stimulus) Page
 
As has been widely-reported, the CARES Act will provide a "stimulus check" to a majority of U.S. taxpayers. The IRS is encouraging individuals and families to visit their Economic Impact Payments page (linked above) to check on the status of their payment and to provide information on preferred method of delivery.
 
 
Additional Forestry Community Resources - Individuals and Companies
 

VFA is proud to partner with many organizations at the federal and state level that continue to provide invaluable insight into the implications of COVID-19 on the forestry community. Below are direct links to the resources provided by VFA’s partner organizations:

Federal Resources

Forest Resources Association: Impact of COVID-19 on Forest Products Industry Dashboard

Updated daily by noon, FRA is tracking the operational status and related compliance requirements of each state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Federation of Independent Businesses: COVID-19 Employer Compliance FAQ (Federal)

NFIB, and its Virginia state office, are continuing to update guidance to assist employers with understanding federal compliance requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Alliance of Forest Owners: COVID-19 Resources

NAFO has compiled a number of useful company templates on sanitizing procedures, prevention and mitigation requirements and how companies are communicating with employees and shareholders on its COVID-19 resource page.

State Resources

Virginia Department of Forestry: COVID-19 Information Page

VDOF continues to maintain normal agency operations as much as possible through increased telework options for staff and staggered scheduling to minimize contact in office buildings. This page provides the latest status updates, information for DOF employees, links to additional state resources, and educational materials for Project Learning Tree for use in home education.

Virginia Cooperative Extension: VCE COVID-19 Resources

Cooperative Extension has compiled a number of useful resources for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes preventative measures that you can take at the grocery store, with takeout or during other public interactions. The site also contains educational material including: activities for kids, resources for parents and some diet and exercise recommendations during quarantine.

Virginia.gov: COVID-19 Resources and Latest State-Level Actions

Virginia’s most concise gathering of state government actions/resources regarding COVID-19 can be found on the Virginia.gov website.

Virginia Manufacturers Association: COVID-19 Resource Center for Manufacturers

VMA is tracking its coordination of industry's response to state government, including its recommendations for regulatory relief for Virginia's manufacturing businesses.

Hellebush Consulting: COVID-19 Tips & Takeaways Blog

VFA's contract lobbying firm, Hellebush Consulting, has started a blog to monitor both the impact of COVID-19 policy on Virginia businesses, as well as to share some practical advice for small employers and those who are self-employed.

BACK TO TOP

Federal & State COVID-19 Document Library
 

Throughout the federal and state government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a number of guidance documents and formal responses that continue to be referenced. Below is a library of PDF documents and/or webpages for your reference regarding the response to COVID-19:

Federal Document Library

U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS-CISA)

 

U.S. Department of Labor - Occupational Safety & Health Administration (DOL-OSHA)

Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 (March 2020)
OSHA COVID-19 Resource Page (March 2020)

State Document Library

Virginia Governor's Office

 
Virginia Department of Labor & Industry
Virginia Department of Transportation