6 takeaways from POLITICO Pro’s briefing on PPPs and employers

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1. The paycheck protection program was a massive undertaking that saved jobs, but had its downsides.

Zach explained that the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP for short, was extremely popular. The nearly $ 1 trillion program gives employers loans that are canceled if they maintain their payroll.

But the program has been fraught with pitfalls since its hasty launch, with banks unfamiliar with the rules, large companies getting faster access than smaller ones, and massive fraud. Congress has just agreed to extend the PPP application deadline from March 31 to May 31, fearing that many companies will be left out, though there are fears the program is running out of funding. ‘by the end of April.

2. It is not known how much the paycheck protection program has helped the economy during the pandemic.

Zach also explained that there were no firm estimates of how many jobs the program had actually saved. Academics disagree on the impact, with some saying it only saved a few million jobs. If the low-end estimates hold true, it means the P3 could have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per job saved. Zach said it’s something researchers are studying and he’s confident the matter will be revisited in the future, especially if the United States finds itself in a similar position again.

Eleanor mentioned that an alternative to PPP – which would keep workers employed without going through their employer – was proposed by Biden in his US bailout, unveiled this week. The move would spend $ 100 billion on workforce development programs, including $ 40 billion for a new displaced workers program and sector training aimed at placing workers in growing sectors like energy. clean, manufacture and care; $ 12 billion would target underserved communities, including creating a new subsidized jobs program to address long-term unemployment and underemployment; and $ 48 billion would go towards overhauling the country’s workforce development infrastructure, which an administration official said would double the number of registered apprentices. This approach may be more conducive to large-scale reallocation of the labor market, particularly in cases like a pandemic where certain industries such as hospitality are patchily affected by declining demand.

3. It is likely that the federal government will force companies to follow certain Covid-19 safety precautions, but when it will happen is still up in the air.

Rebecca told us that a temporary emergency OSHA standard is more than likely on the horizon, but the timing is still pending. The agency takes its time to carefully formulate the regulations. It seems obvious the rule will at least enforce the CDC’s current safety recommendations – namely, providing masks to workers. However, said Rebecca, the longer the federal government waits to issue the mandatory rules, the greater the shock could be for employers in states that have started to relax their own safety restrictions.

4. The child care industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, disproportionately affecting women and women of color.

Eleanor explained that the child care industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic – and that it has disproportionately affected women and women of color. Two previous rounds of Covid relief have awarded around $ 50 billion to the industry. Biden’s US bailout would allocate $ 25 billion to a child care growth and innovation fund that allows states to provide care for infants and toddlers in underserved areas and create a extended credit to partially reimburse employers for the construction of a day care center at their workplace. It is also expected to include more provisions that advocates say will more specifically target the wages and benefits of child care workers in the next phase of infrastructure investment.

5. The pandemic has sparked a wider discussion about a policy of permanent paid leave.

Eleanor explained that the United States is one of the only wealthy countries that does not have a federal paid vacation policy. A previous round of Covid aid enacted one for paid coronavirus-related leave for some workers. But that program expired in December and the two relief rounds since then have not extended it. The pandemic has sparked a wider discussion about a policy of permanent paid leave; Biden campaigned to give all workers 12 weeks of family and medical leave. The next phase of its infrastructure plan is to include some sort of paid vacation provision. There is a growing bipartisan consensus, but Republicans and Democrats are still at odds over how long the policy will last and who should pay for it (employers or employees).

6. The issue of vaccination of workers turned out to be a problem for employers.

Eleanor and Rebecca discussed how forcing workers to receive the Covid vaccine creates great legal liability for employers, since the vaccine is not approved by the FDA, there are a variety of varieties. vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, etc. – and workers may have religious or other beliefs preventing them from receiving it. Instead of a requirement, employers offered employees incentives to receive the vaccine instead, like paid time off, cash bonus, etc. may be more wary of the vaccination process.

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