Rep. Griffith: Unforeseen “legitimate concern” with Paycheck Protection Program should be addressed

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ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — The Paycheck Protection Program, also known as PPP, was enacted to help small businesses and the self-employed keep their businesses afloat while paying their workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) says an employee who is given a written offer to return to work could lose unemployment if they decline the offer.

As businesses begin to open, some employers and their workers are faced with uncertainty. What happens if a worker with medical condition declines to return to work?

Robin Litz, owner of Kissed Cupcakes in Lynchburg, told WFXR Wednesday that at least one employee has declined to come back. The reason? A family member is at risk of contracting coronavirus due to a comprised immune system.

We brought the issue to 9th District Congressman Morgan Griffith, who said the concern is legitimate.

“This is a legitimate concern which we did not anticipate when we passed this bill and do think it’s … something we are going to have to address because I don’t think it’s any question that it’s a problem for those who do have a doctor’s note saying they shouldn’t come back,” Griffith said.

Litz, mentioned late Thursday to WFXR that the employee who initially declined to come back to work due to putting a family member at risk, has decided to return to work.

The PPP loan is forgivable as long as the business sets aside 75% of the funds to cover payroll and bring back staff. Otherwise, the loan must be paid back.

While the legislation does not provide explicit protection for the immunocompromised, the CARES Act does provide a $600 weekly supplemental on top of regular unemployment benefits for all workers. It means some healthy, capable workers could potentially make more on unemployment than working.

Griffith says if an employee declines a written offer to return to work, it is up to the employer to notify state authorities who distribute unemployment funds.

“The employer has to notify the Virginia Employment Commission that the individual has been offered a job and has refused to come back,” Griffith said. “If that occurs, then the Virginia Employment Commission is supposed to eliminate there unemployment check. So that was the fix that was built in the bill.”

The Small Business Administration has released an extensive FAQ document to answer your questions about the Paycheck Protection Program. View the document below:

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