DEED Call Notes 4/13/2020
APPLE VALLEY CHAMBER NOTE: The following are rough notes of a conference call with the commissioners this morning at 7 a.m. The following topics are mentioned in the notes. We thought this makes it easier for you to scan the document.
- Updating critical business list changes
- Asking YOUR IDEAS for safe workplace changes for industrial, office, retail, deliveries and pick up
- Self Employed Wage Calculations for programs
- New License Technology coming
- Examining Banks remotely
- FRIDAY: New Work Comp Law Was Passed
- OSHA: Industry Specific Guideline Link
- Tax Extension Update
The Q.&A. Was longer than usual:
- Federal Bills
- Electronic Signatures for State Forms
- Guaranteed Sick Leave status
- Large Manufacturer need for employee confidentiality/retaliation
2020 04 13 Call, DEED
Monday, April 13, 2020
Steve Kelley, Commissioner of Commerce
Nicole Blissenbach, Asst Commissioner of Department of Labor and Industry
Robert Doty, Asst Commissioner of Dept of Revenue
Steve Grove, Commissioner of DEED
Kevin McKinnon, Deputy Commissioner of DEED
Darielle Dannon, Legislative Director
Anna Peterson, DEED Chief of Staff
MOVING FORWARD, THESE CALLS WILL BE Monday and Thursday
DEED, Steve Grove
- Gov EO 2033, extending SAH thru 5/4 for all businesses “non-critical.” and extended school closings thru 5/4 as well.
- Best guidance on this is www.mn.gov/deed/critical.
- Continuing to update the website as we work through different companies like landscape companies…
- Shifted communications model: asking that people email their questions, will be the quickest way to respond ( [email protected])
- On Thurs call last week: Gov asked DEED and MDH and DLI to consider what coming back to work might look like, with proper social distancing guidelines lined up. For those currently non-critical. Ex, what does customer facing environment look like, industrial vs ofc vs retail, delivery and pick-up, and addressing the over 250 suggestions already offered.
Your Advice and Ideas on Future Social Distancing
- (Here is the link to the form Commissioner Grove spoke about for the State of Minnesota to receive advice and ideas from the public on social distancing practices.)
- MN is the first state in the ctry to include additional $600/week from CARES Act. Pymts already started; will be added to currently eligible UI enrollees.
- PUA expands the program to include self-employed… more complex to institute and calculate wage rates. No states have put that in play yet, but we are working to build infrastructure around wage calculations, guidance on wage rates, more to come. Huge priority for us.
- Record # of apps for UI still. At this rate, we are on track to receive 2x as many apps in past month as received in all of 2019. Flow is stunningly large. Remind people to apply based on the schedule on website based on last 2 digits of your SSN. To manage flow.
- If you have a question about your account, call Monday – Thursday, between 8 am – 2 pm.
- If you need help applying for unemployment benefits, call Friday between 8 am – 4:30 pm.
- If you need help with your password, call anytime during business hours.
- View Contact Us for details.
Steve Kelley, Commerce
- One consequence of this emergency is that license testing ctrs in MN have been closed. Have been getting requests for temp licenses where required, esp for insurance producers.
- We are ww our technology provider to be able to provide this. They work with other states on this as well.
- Community banks around the state are stepping up to support local businesses with access to the PPP program. We are working with banks we regulate.
- Developing new techniques to examine banks remotely. Had been considering before, COVID-19 has accelerated our implementation. Should make exam more efficient for the banks.
Nicole Blissenbach, DLI
- Friday: workers comp law passed last week. On website are FAQs and summary of law for both employers and employees.
- In OSHA unit, working on some industry-specific guidance for employers with questions or who need help assessing potential exposure for employees and employing safe business practices. If you need help, contact our OSHA consultation dept. Contact info on our website.
Robert Doty, Revenue
- We’ve been working to update taxpayers on info re a number of different tax types re extensions. Starting to roll that out, now available on our website.
- Particularly important for larger tax types, like sales and use tax (both mthly/qtly), estimated payments, and MN Care Provider taxes.
- More info on more tax types is coming up as well.
- Federal bill: lots of questions and looking for more guidance from federal govt. What are we waiting for re PUA and what is timeline? Grove: this is the #1 question we’re getting. Is a 2-pronged issue: 1) infrastructure in our system to accept an account type not currently built into our system. Expanding to a whole new class of workers. 2) getting the right guidance from fed govt re right $ to calculate wages and benefits. Still don’t have the full picture to calculate. ARE using 2019 tax returns vs 2018, so for those of you considering delay, filing earlier might be better. We do have a real sense of urgency on this. For context: the reason it’s complex is that PUA is a program the govt is asking us to build using existing Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). Typically is very geographically focused, like for tornadoes. Calculating wage rates is much easier; is more discrete. Never had to apply this to the entire country, so the complexities extrapolate as you scale up. That’s why this is taking longer than we’d like. We will be one of the first when it’s figured out.
- Revenue question: Does the state currently – or are you considering – allowing electronic signatures for Revenue and Secretary of State? Doty: is being considered, not yet finalized.
- Clarification question for DLI from last week: can Nicole clarify answer on “reasonable accommodations”? Would an employee be guaranteed federal paid sick leave or get fired to UI if no reasonable accommodations can be found? That person needing accommodations or needing to take care of family…. Blissenbach: I think this is getting at – if employee went thru process and asked for an accommodation and there are none, what are options available? This requirement falls under ADA or MN Human Rights Act, and accommodation process must be used… if none can be found, can work towards: 1) if there is paid leave available, can decide on this; 2) could be a lay-off and UI accessed. First step would be to determine if there is an accommodation that would allow the employee to continue working. Also if an employee lives with someone else with an underlying health condition… don’t have the clearest answer right now. The laws indicated here fall under EEOC/Dept of Human Rights. Questions should go there. we are looking to determine how best to help these individuals.
- Re larger mfg facilities, doing the bare minimum for safety for employees, what is resource for requirements? And where can we make complaint of lack of measure in place? Blissenbach: the process an employee can use if they feel employer is not following CDC/MDH guidelines, is to submit complaint thru OSHA. Has been receiving lots of these complaints and are reaching out to employers. There are protections under the law for workers who do complain about safety and health conditions at work, including confidentiality and protection from retaliation. Re help for industries that are working and are trying to develop safe workplace practices, OSHA consultation, part of DLI, is happy to help employers employ them. We also are building industry-specific guidance. i.e. last week, OSHA developed guidance for grocery industry. Also working on mfg as well. Right now, main guidance is to refer people to CDC/MDH for their guidance.
- Business assistance: is there a possibility more funds will be allocated to DEED’s SBEL, or that it could be expanded? Grove: expansion would have to come thru legislature, being discussed. I’m sure you all saw the Strib article yesterday re struggles people are having with these loans. Compared to the SBA, Minnesota’s SBEL programs are dwarfed in size. Our ongoing question: are they complimenting federal programs, filling a gap they don’t meet? If so, double down. If not, let’s not use. Good points on both sides. That said, program is going well, and money is getting to businesses.
- Article about PPP in Star Tribune: https://www.startribune.com/big-banks-take-heat-over-sba-loan-program-response-they-are-trying-to-take-advantage-of-the-situation/569547252/)
- Does DEED plan on presenting current waiting list for SBEL to legislature to help them as they consider expanding the programs? Grove: for privacy reasons, won’t give company names. But are sharing the #s. Companies are not applying to DEED but through the lenders; we are ww at least 25 lenders across the state, and we can turn around lender apps in less than 36 hours.
- If someone is both employed and an independent contractor and “unemployed” from both, do I need to apply separately or does one app get them covered for PUA? Blissenbach: don’t have the answer to that yet. Working on this.
- Last week we had a question re city-level data or by zip code of UI apps? Peterson: data is owned by UI. We have it by county, don’t expect to get it more granular at this time. Blissenbach: UI stats on our website to look at map re geographic and demographic data.