Information for COVID-19 FAQ, Employers, Jobseekers, Self-Employed and Child Care

COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses

Overview

The Office of Employer Initiatives (OEI) has established this site to ensure that Small Businesses have access to information and resources that will assist them in remaining economically viable in light of the COVID-19 challenges we are facing. 

Our focus is on the needs of  Small Businesses and  ensuring a statewide response and coordination with all available local, state and federal resources.

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Governor’s Office Announcement

"The state of Texas is strong; our people, resilient. As we saw during Hurricane Harvey, when neighbors help neighbors, our resilience is redoubled. And I have no doubt that Texans will continue to work together in that same spirit over the coming days and weeks."                                               

- Governor Greg Abbott

For more information on how the State of Texas is handling the pandemic, see Governor Greg Abbott’s website.

 

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TWC-Office of the Commissioner Representing Employers

The employer commissioner's office represents the Texas business community, furnishing a wide variety of services to employers including informational materials, employment law seminars, an 800 number and a quarterly newsletter.

Employers may contact the Commissioner's office for information, advocacy and assistance with unemployment compensation and wage claim cases, and other workplace concerns such as employee policy issues. The Commissioner's staff includes four attorneys who are available to answer your questions.

Contact Information: Call – 800-832-9394 or employeeinfo@twc.state.tx.us

COVID-19 Resources

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Office of Employer Initiatives

The Office of Employer Regional Representatives are available to assist small business with access to TWC resources and to connect with other local, state and federal resources.  Please email our office at SmallBizC19@twc.state.tx.us

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Sign Up for Updates

If you’re an employer impacted by COVID-19 and would like to receive updates on services, general information and resources for support sign-up for Small Business Initiatives COVID-19 updates below.

Email Updates
To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.

 

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Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Requires certain employees to provide employers with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. In general, employees of private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and certain public sector employers, are eligible for up to two weeks of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons. Effective April 1, 2020 and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

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Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES ACT)

The CARES Act makes certain benefits available to small business and other employers including the following: 

Employee retention credit for employer’s subject to closure due to COVID-19

  • provides 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.

Employer Credit

  • The credit is based on qualified wages paid to the employees

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.

For eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees

  • all employee wages qualify for the credit, whether the employer is open for business or subject to a shutdown order.
  • The credit is provided for the first $10,000 of compensation, including health benefits, paid to an eligible employee
  • The credit is provided for wages paid or incurred from March 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020

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SBA Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources

The Small Business Administration is providing information on government assistance programs for small businesses. This is to ensure small businesses have access to information on loans, paycheck protection, guidance and local assistance. Small businesses are encouraged to do their part to keep their employees, customers, and themselves healthy and safe.

 

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SBA -Small Business Development Centers

Texas SBDCs network is open for business. Each small business service center is available to you during this difficult and unexpected time. One-on-one confidential consulting will continue. The SBDCs network can assist you by email, phone, or video conference. You can get assistance for the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Coronavirus Aid

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued information to help small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan. The website provides answers and instructions on what you need to do to obtain assistance.

 

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Department of Labor (DOL)

The U.S. Department of Labor has resources to help workers and employers prepare for the COVID-19 virus.

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Workforce Development Boards (WDBs)

Employer services: WDBs provide a full array of job posting and placement services, up-to-date information on the labor market and emerging occupations, recruiting, retention, and training assistance, tax and hiring incentives and more. Due to the spread of COVID-19, Workforce Solutions Offices across the state have had to adjust their schedule and availability. Before you physically go to any office please check the below list to confirm the office is open and its hours. Some offices have moved to offer services virtually. The below list is updated daily at 10:00 a.m., please check back to make sure your information is up-to-date.

For more information visit: https://twc.texas.gov/partners/workforce-development-boards-websites

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TWC – Rapid Response for Businesses

When businesses close plants or lay off workers. Texas Workforce Solutions can provide immediate on-site services to assist workers facing job losses. Rapid Response provides early intervention assistance designed to transition workers to their next employment as soon as possible. Rapid Response services are tailored to each company, based on needs of the affected employees.

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Mass Claims and Shared Work Programs

Facing Layoffs? Check out TWC’s Mass Claims Program

If you have to close your business either temporarily or permanently and need to lay off employees, you may be able to submit a mass claim for unemployment benefits on their behalf. The Mass Claims program streamlines the unemployment benefit claims process for employers faced with either temporary or permanent layoffs. Employers can submit basic worker information on behalf of their employees to initiate claims for unemployment benefits. You can submit a mass claim request on Employer Benefits Services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To submit a Mass Claim Request:

  • Log on to Employer Benefits Services and select Mass Claims Request. Note: We have waived the requirement that you must submit your Mass Claims Request at least five days prior to the planned layoff.

To submit a Mass Claim Request manually:

Note: If you have already laid off staff, you cannot use Employer Benefits Services (EBS) to submit a Mass Claim. If your layoff date was in the past and you have 10 or more employees affected by the pandemic, you will need to fill out and submit Mass Claims documents manually:

  • Complete the Mass Claims SpreadsheetMS Excel and the Mass Claims Agreement Letter MS Word. The spreadsheet has an instructions tab to help you identify which fields are required and which are optional.
  • Email the completed documents to TWC’s Mass Claims Coordinator at ui.massclaims@twc.state.tx.us. Note: You can leave the columns highlighted in blue blank.
  • Make sure your email contains the following information:
    • Your company’s name, address, phone number, and TWC Tax Account Number
    • Contact person’s name (authorized representative with signature authority)
    • Contact’s email address, and phone number
    • The layoff date and how many employees were affected

Our Mass Claims department will process your Mass Claim request in the order received.

For more information, see: Mass Claims for Unemployment Benefits

Need to Reduce Employee Hours? Check out TWC’s Shared Work Program

If your business has slowed down due to the pandemic and you need to reduce employee working hours, you may be able to avoid laying off employees by submitting a shared work plan. The Shared Work program provides Texas employers with an alternative to layoffs. TWC developed this voluntary program to help Texas employers and employees withstand a slowdown in business.

Shared Work allows employers to:

  • Supplement their employees’ wages lost because of reduced work hours with partial unemployment benefits.
  • Reduce normal weekly work hours for employees in an affected unit by at least 10 percent but not more than 40 percent; the reduction must affect at least 10 percent of the employees in that unit.

Shared Work unemployment benefits are payable to employees who qualify for and participate in an approved Shared Work Plan. Workers may choose not to participate. Employees who qualify will receive both wages and Shared Work unemployment benefits.

For more information, see TWC’s Shared Work web page.

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TWC – Unemployment Benefits

COVID –19 Related Unemployment Insurance Information:

Governor Abbott granted the Texas Workforce Commission’s request to suspend the one-week waiting period, allowing workers in Texas to receive benefits immediately after their unemployment benefit applications are approved.

  • Work search requirements are waived for employees

Unemployment Insurance Provisions -Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act 

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance 

  • creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through December 31, 2020
  • provides payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency.

Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations

  • provides payment to states to reimburse nonprofits, government agencies, and Indian tribes for half of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020 to pay unemployment benefits.

Unemployment Insurance Provisions -Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act
 

Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation Benefits

  • provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

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Fraud Prevention

Alert! Be aware of unemployment insurance scams and fraudulent phone calls. Do not give your personally identifiable information like your date of birth or your Social Security number to anyone you are not sure of.

Alert! Be aware of unemployment insurance scams and fraudulent phone calls. Do not give your personally identifiable information like your date of birth or your Social Security number to anyone you are not sure of.

For additional information on Unemployment Tax and Appeals Notices

We encourage you to use our online tools, and tutorials for Unemployment Tax and Appeals information. We understand the concern and uncertainty you may be experiencing surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are committed to being responsive to the needs of our taxpayers as the situation evolves.

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For additional information on Unemployment Tax and Appeals Notices

We encourage you to use our online tools, and tutorials for Unemployment Tax and Appeals information. We understand the concern and uncertainty you may be experiencing surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are committed to being responsive to the needs of our taxpayers as the situation evolves.

Unemployment Tax Department

How to Appeal a Decision

 

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Precautions for Employers

The CDC recommends that all employers consider how best to decrease the spread of acute respiratory illness and lower the impact of COVID-19 in their workplace in the event that the illness spreads. All employers should be ready to implement strategies to protect their workforce from COVID-19 while ensuring continuity of operations. The CDC has prepared a list of recommended strategies to help employers contain the spread of the illness within their workplace:

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
  • Separate sick employees in the workplace and send them home
  • Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees by posting informational posters and setting up multiple hand hygiene stations
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning and provide disposable wipes for employees to use
  • Get the latest information regarding travel safety
  • Communicate your attendance expectations to your employees

The CDC also recommends that employers create a flexible plan to manage sick leave policy and attendance issues, and to implement working remotely and avoiding holding meetings in close quarters. For more information, see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html.

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Child Care & Early Learning COVID-19 Information

Many families and Child Care programs that participate in the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) subsidized Child Care program have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, many essential workers require Child Care to continue working during the emergency.

TWC has approved multiple policy actions to support families and programs at this time and continues to move quickly to respond to Child Care needs across the state. Please click the link below for more information.

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State Agencies: News and Information Related to COVID-19

Texas Governor’s Office

The Governor’s Office website keeps Texans up to date on information pertaining to the Coronavirus. The website provides updates on Executive Orders, Wavers issued by the Governor and other resources to assist Texans during this difficult time.

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

These are challenging times for businesses all over the nation. The Texas Comptroller’s office knows that during periods of economic hardship, paying or remitting taxes and fees on time can feel like an extra burden when there’s so much uncertainty. For Texas businesses that find themselves with taxpayer questions we ask that you contact our Enforcement Hotline at 800-252-8880. Staff is available to assist Texas businesses learn about options concerning tax payments and remaining in compliance. We strongly encourage you to use our online tools, tutorials and other resources for tax services, and establish 24/7 account access on Webfile. We’re standing by to help Texas businesses during these difficult times.

Texas Department of Agriculture

The Texas Department of Agriculture is committed to providing the same high level of service to our customers during the COVID-19 emergency as they've come to expect.  Whether we're helping Texas farmers and ranchers continue to provide a safe and dependable food supply, ensuring Texas school children continue to have access to regular, healthy meals or supporting our vital rural hospitals and clinics, the Texas Department of Agriculture is here for Texans.

Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) is available with any license related issue, including applications, renewals, fees, examinations, continuing education or inspections. If you would like to email customer service for assistance use the following link.

Texas Department of Insurance

The Texas Department of Insurance continues to provide services to Texans. If you need consumer, business and industry or guidance to insurance industry questions contact our office. Additional information can be researched on the following link.

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Are you a Small Business hiring, retooling operations or need access to training?

Skills for Small Business for Employers

WorkIinTexas – Job Site (Find a Candidate, Post Job Openings, Labor Market Information, Employer User Guide)

WorkInTexas – Veteran Services

If you need assistance, please email the Small Business COVID-19 Initiative at SkillsBizC19@twc.state.tx.us

 

 

 

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