CAFF Policy Update: COVID-19

Updated 4/10/20 (we will continue to update this document as new developments unfold and as new information is released)

CARES Federal programs

In the face of our public health crisis due to the coronavirus, Congress passed a stimulus package on March 27—The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—which provides unprecedented levels of aid funds to individuals and industries, including a variety of supports for agriculture.

The first of these is the creation of a $9.5 billion disaster relief program to provide support for producers impacted by the coronavirus. This funding is for specialty crop producers, livestock producers, and producers who supply local food systems. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently working to determine how to distribute these funds to producers who need them. The $9.5 billion is being divvied up by USDA this week and should be announced on Friday. CAFF has joined with NSAC, NFU, NYFC to ask for $1 billion for local food producers.  It is likely that local food payments would be made through FSA offices and that farmers would have to demonstrate that direct sales are a significant share of their business and that they lost markets. The details of the documentation are still being worked out. 

The bill also includes an additional $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), the same fund previously used to make trade mitigation payments to commodity growers.

In addition, the legislation provides funding for small business loan programs, including the newly-created Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Funded at $349 billion, the program, administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), will provide loans to small businesses for payroll costs, most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over an eight-week period after the loan is made.

Farms apply through existing SBA lenders, including participating Farm Credit institutions. To be considered for funding, employee and compensation levels must be maintained. Farms with 500 or fewer employees are eligible for these loans. More information about this program, including a sample application form, can be found here. Applications will be accepted through June 30, although interested individuals should not delay in reaching out to their lenders to apply.

The CARES Act also provides $10 billion in funding for an existing program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, which farms are not currently eligible for, but is easily confused with the PPP. These loans are for working capital following a disaster to be used for paying fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid due to a disaster. These loans are also administered by the SBA. Farms are not eligible for EIDL (disaster loans) at SBA (with the exception of nurseries, aquaculture) because Congress wrote them out in 1986 after the farm crisis led to widespread defaults. Some members of Congress have been trying to get SBA to include farms, but it will probably have to be changed in the next emergency legislation.

 

Paid Sick Leave related to Covid-19 

[NOTE: This is not the final word. There are some exemptions for employers with less than 50 employees—stay tuned]

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees who need to take leave from work for certain specified reasons related to COVID-19. These reasons may include the following: 

  • the employee or someone the employee is caring for is subject to a government quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
  • the employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical attention; or,
  • the employee is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) requires that employers with less than 500 employees provide up to 10 weeks of paid, and 2 weeks unpaid, emergency family and medical leave to eligible employees if the employee is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Employers are to be reimbursed by the federal government with tax credits. 

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/ffcra 

State of California

Child Care

On Saturday, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-45-20 to provide expanded access to childcare for essential workers during COVID-19  by granting the flexibility to waive certain programmatic and administrative requirements. The order directs the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Department of Social Services (DSS) to work together to develop and issue guidance on how the essential worker prioritization will roll out. This has been finalized and can be found HERE. The purpose is to provide guidance to state-subsidized early learning and care programs that will continue to provide services to currently enrolled families or begin to provide, what CDE refers to as, “Emergency Childcare” for essential workers and other populations. The “Food and Agriculture Sector” has been classified as a priority under this effort.  

CDE is working with the Administration to identify additional funding to support increased subsidized access to Emergency Childcare. If further details come out, they will be passed along. 

 Additional child care information can be found in the March 17 guidance on CDE’s website on Child Care and Student Supervision. The document is intended to be statewide guidance to help inform decision making for both individuals and caregivers.  

 Also DSS’s Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) continues to post Provider Information Notices with new waivers HERE under the Child Care Program section. One of the waivers put out on March 16 (PIN 20-04-CCP) provides a statewide waiver for operation of childcare facilities, including temporary employer sponsored childcare. CCLD has established a dedicated e-mail address to receive public inquiries related to CCLD-licensed facilities and COVID-19. This e-mail address is: CCLCOVID-19INFO@dss.ca.gov

A list of DSS’s Child Care Regional Offices can be found HERE

 Lastly, CDE’s Early Learning and Care Division is available should folks have question or need additional information. Questions are being directed to 916-322-6233

Workers Compensation for undocumented

For Release: April 6, 2020

Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566

Email Inquiries: cdipress@insurance.ca.gov

Insurance Commissioner Lara Issues Alert About Immigrant Workers’ Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation Benefits for COVID-19 Exposure or Illness

En español below:

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara today alerted insurance companies that all workers affected by COVID-19 on the job are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of their immigration status. This includes workers engaged in front-line occupations such as health care, emergency services, food production, sales, and delivery, among others.

“This unprecedented pandemic has sparked questions and concerns among essential workers in the immigrant community who are showing up for work every day, bringing us vital goods and services,” Commissioner Lara said. “Hard-working Californians who are exposed to COVID-19 are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they fall ill, regardless of their immigration status.”

Commissioner Lara issued a Notice to remind insurance companies, agents, and employers that California law requires the payment of workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers regardless of their immigration status. His action supports Governor Gavin Newsom’s March 12 executive order stating that workers may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they were exposed to or contracted COVID-19 on the job.

In 2015, SB 623, authored by Commissioner Lara when he was a member of the California State Senate, expressly expanded protections for undocumented workers in the event they are injured on the job, to include compensation pursuant to the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund or the Subsequent Injury Fund, in addition to standard workers’ compensation benefits.

“During this pandemic, essential workers face great risk to their health every time they clock in,” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. “If they are injured or get sick at work, they should know they can rely on workers’ compensation to provide the health care and benefits they need, regardless of immigration status. We commend Commissioner Lara for standing up for the workers who are among the most vulnerable in this time of crisis.”

According to the Notice, “Workers’ compensation injuries caused by COVID-19 that arise out of and occur in the course of employment are compensable to the same extent as any other compensable injury or disease. This Notice is a reminder that such claims may not be denied on the basis of the injured worker’s immigration status.”

Workers who are not sure whether their employer had insurance on the date they were injured should call the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau at 1-888-229-2472 or visit their website at www.caworkcompcoverage.com.  

 

 # # # 

 

Media notes: 

  • Link to Notice.
  • California law requires the payment of workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers regardless of their immigration status: Labor Code § 3351, subdivision (a); See Farmer Brothers Coffee v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 533, 540.
  • The California Supreme Court has confirmed that the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 does not preempt state law expressly conferring the protections of state employment and labor laws available to all workers “regardless of immigration status,” see Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co. (2014) 59 Cal.4th 407.
  • A person shall not be prohibited from receiving compensation pursuant to the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund or the Subsequent Injury Fund solely because of his or her citizenship or immigration status, see Labor Code §§ 3733, 4756. 

El comisionado de seguros Lara emite una alerta sobre la elegibilidad de los trabajadores inmigrantes para los beneficios de compensación de los trabajadores por exposición o enfermedad a COVID-19
 

LOS ÁNGELES, Calif. – El Comisionado de Seguros, Ricardo Lara, alertó hoy a las compañías de seguros de que todos los trabajadores afectados por COVID-19 en el transcurso de sus labores son elegibles para beneficios de compensación laboral, independientemente de su estado migratorio. Esto incluye a los trabajadores dedicados a ocupaciones como atención médica, servicios de emergencia, producción de alimentos, ventas y entregas, entre otros.

“Esta pandemia sin precedentes ha generado preguntas y preocupaciones entre los trabajadores esenciales de la comunidad inmigrante que se presentan a trabajar todos los días y nos traen bienes y servicios vitales”, dijo el comisionado Lara. “Los trabajadores californianos que estén expuestos a COVID-19 tienen derecho a beneficios de compensación para trabajadores si se enferman, sin importar su estado migratorio”. 

El comisionado Lara emitió un Aviso para recordar a las compañías de seguros, agentes y empleadores que la ley en California exige el pago de beneficios de compensación para trabajadores lesionados, independientemente de su estado migratorio. Su acción apoya la orden ejecutiva del Gobernador Gavin Newsom del 12 de marzo, estableciendo que los trabajadores pueden ser elegibles para los beneficios de compensación para trabajadores si estuvieran expuestos o contrajeran COVID-19 en el trabajo.

En 2015, la ley SB 623, presentada por el Comisionado Lara cuando era miembro del Senado de California, amplió expresamente las protecciones para los trabajadores indocumentados en caso de que se lesionaran en el trabajo, para incluir una compensación bajo el Fondo Fiduciario de Beneficios para Empleadores No Asegurados o el Subsecuent Injury Fund, además de los beneficios estándar de compensación laboral.

“Durante esta pandemia, los trabajadores esenciales enfrentan un gran riesgo para su salud cada vez que van a trabajar”, dijo el Secretario-Tesorero Ejecutivo de la Federación Laboral de California, Art Pulaski. “Si se lesionan o se enferman en el trabajo, deben saber que pueden confiar en la compensación de los trabajadores para proporcionar la atención médica y los beneficios que necesitan, independientemente del estado de inmigración. Elogiamos al Comisionado Lara por defender a los trabajadores que están entre los más vulnerable en este momento de crisis “.

Según el Aviso, “las lesiones bajo compensación laboral causadas por COVID-19 que surgen de y ocurren en el curso del empleo son compensables en la misma medida que cualquier otra lesión o enfermedad es compensable. Este aviso es un recordatorio de que dichos reclamos no pueden ser denegados en base al estado migratorio del trabajador lesionado “.

Los trabajadores que no estén seguros de si su empleador tenía seguro en la fecha en que se lesionaron deben llamar a la Oficina de Clasificación de Seguros de Compensación de Trabajadores al 1-888-229-2472 o visitar su sitio web en www.caworkcompcoverage.com.

 

Farmer funds that California farmers could apply to

AFT Farmer Relief Fund

$1,000 per direct market farmer between $10,000 and $1 million in direct market sales.

https://farmland.org/farmer-relief-fund/ 

California Family Farmer Emergency Fund

$1,000-$5,000 for farms with $10,000-$400,000 in gross sales

https://www.caff.org/cafamilyfarmeremergencyfund/ 

CCOF

$1,000-$2,500 for certified organic farmers

https://www.ccof.org/ccof-foundation/bricmont-hardship-assistance-fund 

CA FarmLink

Offering no-interest loans up to $20,000 for qualified borrowers.

https://www.californiafarmlink.org/covid-19-english/ 

F.A.R.M.S.

$500 emergency grants for limited resource farms of less than 500 acres.

https://www.30000acres.org/farmers-fund/