These are unprecedented and uncertain times. They will undoubtedly call for unprecedented solutions. One thing you can be certain of is our commitment to serving your needs through the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. We are taking precautions to protect our employees, clients, and vendors. To minimize the opportunity for the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we are limiting in-person meetings and have implemented physical distancing and face-covering requirements for our offices. You may contact us by phone or email at any time, and we can conduct remote meetings through conferencing technology.
We are also committed to providing you with timely and accurate information about the current COVID-19 outbreak that may affect your South Carolina business. Below is a collection of relevant resources for employers in our state. The situation changes frequently, so please check back often.
Guidance for South Carolina Employers
Overview of the federal Families First Corona Virus Response Act. Additional information about the FFCRA is below.
Executive Orders from the Governor’s Office
The state’s previous “home or work” order, requiring individuals to remain at home, at work, or in transit between the two or to purchase essential goods and services, is expired.
Executive Order 2020-17, issued March 31, 2020, closed certain non-essential business in South Carolina. Among the categories of businesses ordered to close are entertainment venues and facilities, recreational and athletic facilities and activities, and close-contact service providers. The order included a list of businesses under each category. Ordinances gradually eliminating restrictions may be found below.
- EO 2020-37 allowed the reopening of certain entertainment and recreational venues.
- EO 2020-36 permitted fitness and exercise facilities to reopen, along with close contact businesses such as hair and nail salons.
- EO 2020-34 allowed limited indoor dining and lifted boating restrictions.
- EO 2020-31 rescinded the previous home or work order’s movement restrictions and allowed limited outdoor dining.
- EO 2020-28 permitted reopening of certain non-essential retail stores.
You may access all of the Governor’s executive orders by clicking this link.
Most city ordinances requiring residents to stay at home have expired. With businesses reopening, many cities and counties have implemented ordinances requiring face coverings. Ordinances for larger cities within the state are linked below. Local news media have also complied with a state-wide list.
- City of Columbia
- City of Charleston (downloadable Microsoft Word document)
- City of Greenville (Greenville’s ordinance also requires posting of signage. Information is available here.)
Public Health Information for Employers
The Department of Health and Environmental Control is responsible for, among other things, public health activities in the state. You may access information from SCDHEC on COVID-19 here. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have issued guidance for employers, as well as providing other information about the COVID-19 outbreak.
SCDHEC has issued udpated guidance on various COVID-19 scenarios that are likely to come up as businesses reopen and cases continue to rise in South Carolina.
On July 22, 2020, the CDC issued updated guidance on the duration of isolation and precautions for individuals diagnosed previously with COVID-19. As with previous guidance, the updated advice maintains the time-based strategy of 10 days after symptom onset. However, where previous guidance also recommended waiting 3 days after resolution of fever with improving symptoms, the updated guidance reduces that period to 24 hours for most cases.
The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce has created an information hub for COVID-19 with general information, and an employer resources hub specific to employers. You may find information about the extension to file employer taxes, how to file claims on behalf of employees on layoff, and updated questions and answers about unemployment and COVID-19.
The Governor issued Executive Order 2020-22 on April 7, 2020, allowing employers that must furlough workers to make support payments to furloughed workers without jeopardizing the employee’s ability to claim unemployment or causing an over-payment to the employee.
Regulatory Information for Employers
Department of Labor
Important highlights from the regulations:
- Stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders (such as those issued by some cities in S.C. and by the Governor) count as a quarantine or isolation order under FFCRA. However, the employee is only entitled to the leave if the employee is unable to work (including working remotely) due to the order and the employer otherwise has or had work for the employee to do but for the government order. By contrast, if the workplace is closed due to a government directive closing the business, leave under the FFCRA does not apply.
- Leave to care for someone ordered to quarantine, isolate, or advised to self-quarantine is limited to family or individuals that regularly live in the employee’s home, or with whom the employee has a relationship giving rise to an expectation the employee would care for them. Leave is not available to care for individuals with whom the employee has no personal relationship.
- Emergency paid sick leave and expanded FMLA are both applicable to care for a son or daughter due to unavailability of schools or daycare is available both to children younger than 18 years old, and those 18 and older incapable of self-care due to disability. The language of the FFCRA law only uses this definition for purposes of emergency paid sick leave, limiting expanded FMLA only for those caring for children under 18. Either way, to take leave, there must be no other suitable person available to care for the child.
- The regulations clarify that employees advised to self-quarantine because they are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 are eligible to take emergency paid sick leave. In addition, an employee is eligible for emergency paid sick leave to care for an individual if that individual has been advised to self-quarantine because he or she is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
- Use of expanded FMLA counts against an employee’s entitlement to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period. Prior use of FMLA within 12 months of the need for expanded FMLA leave also reduces the amount of expanded FMLA leave available.
DOL has issued a poster for employers subject to the emergency paid sick leave and expanded FMLA laws. DOL issued companion Frequently Asked Questions for posting the notice, including guidance that employers who have workers tele-working may comply by e-mailing or posting to a company intranet site, in addition to posting in conspicuous places at the work site.
DOL has also issued Questions and Answers on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides emergency paid sick leave and expanded FMLA coverage for certain COVID-19 related absences. Important: These Q&As change frequently, and employers are advised to check them often.
In addition, DOL has issued an explanation of employer expanded family and medical leave requirements, along with a Field Assistance Bulletin indicating it does not plan to take enforcement action against any employers through April 17. In addition, the FAB provides guidance for employers eligible for a tax credit under the law but with insufficient cash flow to meet the paid leave requirements (see footnote 2 of the FAB).
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has updated its guidance on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act during pandemics.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued information and guidance to employers in response to COVID-19.
The IRS has assembled information in response to COVID-19, including tax filing deadline extensions and tax relief provided to certain employers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
The IRS has also issued FAQs for employers on how to claim the tax credit provided under the FFCRA for emergency paid sick leave and expanded FMLA payments made to eligible employees. Importantly, the FAQs provide guidance on the information employers need to collect and maintain to substantiate that the leave qualifies under the law. See FAQs 44-46.
In addition to the tax credit for leave provided under FFCRA, there is an Employee Retention Tax Credit available to certain businesses suffering a business downturn due to COVID-19. Under the program, businesses whose operations were partially or fully suspended by government order due to COVID-19, or that have gross receipts below 50% of the comparable 2019 calendar quarter may be eligible for a credit of 50% of qualifying wages, up to $10,000.
The IRS has issued a Form 7200 for employers seeking advance payment for tax credits under the FFCRA or the Employee Retention Tax Credit.