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Members of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) received valuable guidance from association supporters Ansell, Grimm & Aaron, PC (AGA) on April 30 via a free Zoom webinar the legal team presented to address small business owners on what steps they can take to stay afloat during these trying times.
As a follow-up to the webinar the AGA team presented earlier in the month, attorneys Joshua Bauchner and Rahool Patel once again led an interactive discussion to help auto body and mechanical shop owners learn even more about the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans, changes in employment law and other pertinent information.
“These webinars are a way for us to try to help small business owners navigate the waters,” said Patel.
The legal team addressed numerous questions from small business owners concerning how the PPP loan works, including what qualifies their business for the loan and how it works in relation to their employees collecting unemployment.
PPP loans are designed to encourage business owners to restore their headcount, which means that 75 percent of the funding received must go towards paying employees at least 75 percent of their pre-pandemic salary or rehiring them fully, if they had been previously laid off.
Many shop owners expressed concern that employees may not want to come back if they are afraid for their safety, or if they find they are making more money on unemployment due to receiving the additional 13 weeks of $600 payments on top of the state-funded benefits. If that is the case, Patel and Bauchner explained that a shop owner may need to hire someone else if an employee does not wish to come back in order to retain headcount – an important factor towards having the loan be forgivable.
It’s also important for shop owners to realize that independent contractors who receive 1099s are treated differently.
“Independent contractors are not considered employees, so you may run into issues with that; you can’t consider them employees in order to help the business,” said Bauchner.
Bauchner advised that 1099 employees should qualify for unemployment benefits, however.
“If you spend it right, you should never have to pay it back,” said Patel.
They left owners with a final note to keep in mind that there have been multiple dramatic changes made to the various existing employment laws in the state, all of which are in the favor of protecting employees. They advised owners to get familiar with the laws or consult an attorney or their human resources contact.
AASP/NJ President Jerry McNee (Ultimate Collision, Edison, N.J.) once again was grateful for the insight the AGA team was able to provide to members as more questions have been raised since the last time they addressed the automotive community.
“As we evolve through this whole process, Josh and Rahool are really keeping everyone up to date and abreast of all the information,” said McNee.
For more information on AASP/NJ, visit aaspnj.org.