Labor & Employment News Alert
Indiana Governor Takes Action to Protect Hoosier Businesses Against Effects of COVID-19
March 20, 2020
By: Ross T. Yates
On March 19th, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb took additional action to protect and support Hoosier businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak by signing Executive Order 20-05 (EO) – which in addition to providing protection for individuals, provides economic relief and protection for Hoosier business enterprises.
In a time of uncertainty and immediate cash flow concerns by Indiana business owners, principals should evaluate and give close consideration to the following provisions set forth in the EO:1
- Unemployment Insurance Benefits. Indiana will interpret state unemployment laws to the broadest extent possible to cover Hoosiers who are unable to work because of COVID-19. The state will pay benefits to individuals who file initial unemployment claims late. For employers, the state will not assess certain experience rate penalties because of employees who receive unemployment benefits because of COVID-19.
- Insurance. Indiana will request that insurers institute a 60-day moratorium on cancellations of any policy for non-payment of premiums for all lines of business. However, this will not suspend a policyholder’s obligation to continue to make premium payments. Notwithstanding the EO, business owners should contact their insurance agent(s) or insurer directly regarding each specific policies held by the business.
- Taxes. Indiana will align with the federal government in the delay of the due date of state income tax payments from April 15 to July 15. Indiana counties are to waive penalties on payments of property taxes after May 11 for a period of 60 days, however, this waiver does not apply to tax payments which have been escrowed by financial institutions on behalf of property tax payers. The state may waive any penalties and interest that are directly related to taxes, estimated payments or other amounts due if the due date for said amount due is extended in response to COVID-19.
- Utilities. Providers of gas and electric utilities, broadband, telecommunication, water and wastewater services are prohibited from discontinuing service to any customer in the state.
- Telehealth. With respect to Indiana healthcare providers, the state shall suspend telehealth restrictions and requirements for face-to-face encounters for healthcare treatment and prescribing. Opioid Treatment Providers are permitted to increase the limits for take home medications from 6 days to 30 days (or the maximum amount permitted by federal law).
- Public Licensing Agency. Indiana has suspended the requirement that a health care provider hold an Indiana license if said provider holds an equivalent license from another state and has not been suspended or barred from practice in any state. Mental health professionals are permitted to continue practice via telemedicine. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses are permitted to render services at multiple locations under a single collaboration agreement.
In addition to the EO, Governor Holcomb announced that Indiana small businesses are now eligible for financial assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Under the program, Indiana small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits are eligible to apply for low-interest loans up to $2 million to help overcome a temporary loss of revenue due to COVID-19. The SBA disaster loans available may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills incurred during this pandemic. The SBA disaster loan interest rates are 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits, with terms available up to 30 years.2 To qualify, business owners must demonstrate credit history, the ability to repay the loan, proof of physical presence in Indiana and working capital losses. The deadline to apply for a disaster loan is December 18, 2020.3
As businesses across industries in Indiana are forced to drastically reduce or shutter operations altogether, critical analysis of short term cash flow needs, debt service and commercial contract obligations is paramount. In this ongoing evaluation, owners should consult with their advisors and explore and consider the avenues for relief noted above, if needed.
1 Executive Order 20-05, State of Indiana, March 19, 2020.
3 Small Business Disaster Loan Assistance in Response to COVID-19 (https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Declarations/DeclarationDetails?declNumber=6063522&direct=false), March 19, 2020.