On June 3, 2020, the Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act of 2020. The measure makes significant improvements to the PPP that AGC has been pushing for and its passage marks another legislative victory for the association. Among these improvements are:
- Extending the amount of time that loan recipients can spend PPP funds, and qualify for loan forgiveness, from eight to 24 weeks.
- Revising the uses of loan funds eligible for forgiveness from 75 percent in payroll costs/25 percent in non-payroll costs to 60 percent/40 percent, respectively;
- Creating a safe harbor for employers that made a good faith effort to hire or re-hire qualified employees;
- Extending the maturity of PPP loans from two to five years; and
- Allowing PPP loan recipients to defer payroll taxes through the end of 2020.
President Trump signed the measure into law on Friday, June 5, 2020.
AGC also provided key members of Congress with its recommendations, detailing protections for construction employers from COVID-19 liability and unreasonable workers compensation burdens. Among other things, AGC called for Congress to:
- Assure that businesses with low exposure risk, such as construction firms, will not be held liable if they reasonably comply with relevant guidelines during the crisis and after reopening;
- Limit claims alleging COVID-19 exposure in the course of conducting lawful business to situations of gross negligence, willful misconduct, intentional criminal misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm; and
- Bar states from enacting workers compensation claim presumptions that irrationally treat all job classifications the same – or at equal risk of exposure to COVID-19 – because higher risk jobs, like healthcare or morgue workers, are inherently different from lower risk construction jobs.
Without such legislative action, it will be more difficult for the construction industry to help stem the tide of job losses and build the path to economic recovery.