Edition for Wednesday, April 22, 2020
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your Daily Impact newsletter!
As a valued member of
the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, we plan to stay in touch with you every
afternoon, through emails like this one and on Facebook and Twitter, until the pandemic passes. We
intend to provide you with the latest state and federal information, as well
as highlighting the creativity and innovation that is occuring here in Maine
during this unpredictable and rapidly changing time. To assist you in
navigating the uncertainties ahead, we have created a diverse and
comprehensive collection of web-based resources to help you take care of yourself and your family, your employees, your business, and your community.
Do you have a question? ASK THE EXPERTS.
We are here to
help in any way we can!
Exploring the Issues at
the Intersection of Workers' Comp and Covid-19
On April 22, the Maine State
Chamber hosted its second free Wednesday Webinar to discuss the workers'
compensation issues that have surfaced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly 140 people joined the webinar to hear Chris Condon, president of
United Insurance; John Cronan, Esq. of Preti Flaherty; Lee Cyr director of
Insurance Services for Synernet, Inc.; and Mike Bourque, president and CEO at
MEMIC, as they explored the topic and offered guidance on actions employers
can currently take withing the existing rules and laws.
Among the highlights, and
perhaps the best piece of information for businesses, is to connect with your
insurance agent to discuss the options and customize the solution that best
fits your company. Employers should consider their insurance policies
pertaining to addressing building vacancies, defining site locations,
commercial auto insurance, business income coverage, and commercial property
insurance. Agents can also advise and educate on potential relief options
offered by their company.
Employment law practices
should also be addressed after a discussion with legal counsel to avoid potential
pitfalls regarding liability, coverage terms, protected classes, FMLA,
layoffs, and furloughs. With so many employees now working from home,
companies should also make sure that they have cyber security measures in
place on all company-owned devices used by employees.
While it is technically early
in this pandemic, there have already been approximately 300 workers'
compensation cases filed with the Workers' Comp Board. Standards from the
NCCI and current Maine law provide an adequate road map for determining
compensability of the claims and initiating fact-driven investigations into
them. In Maine, the COVID-19 claims fall under injuries and occupational
diseases, and therefore, infection needs to occur, not simply risk of
exposure. The burden of proof falls to the employee in this situation, and
the investigation would need to determine if the virus was contracted during
the course of employment, if the risk is peculiar to employment, and if the
employee's risk is greater than the public's risk. Of note, contracting the
virus from a coworker is currently not compensable.
Workplace safety was also
discussed this morning, specifically as it relates to ergonomics, workplace
injuries, and mental health. Employers should also implement movement breaks,
encourage proper workspace set up, and be aware of employees' stress and
anxiety levels when possible. Don't forget to report, record, and investigate
any injuries, such as slips, trips, and falls.
The Maine State Chamber would like to thank our sponsors - Bangor
Savings Bank, Central Maine Power Company, Maine DECD, MEMIC, MaineHealth /
Synernet, Preti Flaherty, and United Insurance - as well as our speakers, for
making this webinar successful and informative. If
you were not able to join us this morning, the 60-minute video and slide
presentations are posted online at https://www.mainechamber.org/webinar02.
Senate Passes Legislation
That Includes at Least $16 Million for COVID-19 Testing in Maine
On Wednesday, April 22, U.S.
Senator Susan Collins announced that Maine
would receive at least $16,295,844 for COVID-19 testing under the
Paycheck Protection Program & Health Care Enhancement Act that passed the
Senate last night. The legislation
provides a total of $25 billion for COVID-19 testing efforts, augmenting the
$38 billion in funding for testing, treatments, and vaccines provided through
prior congressional action. This
agreement now moves to the House for consideration.
King Statement on
Bipartisan Agreement to Support Small Businesses, While Also Helping
Hospitals and Boosting Testing
On April 21, U.S. Senator
Angus King released
a statement after the Senate approved a bipartisan agreement that would
provide an additional $484 billion in funding to support America's small
businesses and hospitals hit hard by the economic impacts of coronavirus, as
well as increasing federal funds to support coronavirus testing.
Thursday, April 23 | Tune
in to The Bottom Line Podcast at 10:00 a.m.
Department of Labor Deputy Commissioner Kimberly Smith
Maine Department of Labor Deputy Commissioner Kimberly Smith is this week's special guest
on The Bottom Line
podcast live-streaming at 10:00 a.m.
on Thursday, April 23. Smith will join The Bottom Line co-hosts Dana Connors of
the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and John Williams of Williams
Broadcasting to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on employers and
employment in Maine, with a focus on unemployment insurance.
Maine DOL has updated its online FAQs to
clarify some issues that have emerged from recent communications regarding
the SIDES process and employees refusing to return to work.
State Information Data Exchange System (SIDES) E-Response is a web-based
interface that provides employers with secure online reporting of separation
and wage information about individuals who may file for unemployment
DOL recently sent out the letter to employers and received queries about the
PIN number, which regrettably hadn't been mentioned in the letter. To
clarify, when employers sign up for SIDES, they receive a PIN in the regular
USPS mail needed to activate their SIDES account. Only after the point of
activation will employers be able to complete any requests for separation
Until employers are activated on SIDES, they need to process and return any
paper separation forms they received through the mail in the same format
(sending paper forms through the mail). No information on separation forms
that arrive through the mail can be then transmitted back to MDOL through
have also communicated with MDOL that they are having some issues where
employees are refusing to return to work or go back on payroll. Please send
the following information to the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation Tax
Division by email to email@example.com:
of Claimant and last four of SSN, if known;
offer was given;
individual was to start work or get back on payroll;
Expected duration of work;
Reason for refusal;
* Method of offer (phone, email, text, mail); and,
* Name and phone number of the person who made the offer.
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce and
the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce invite you to attend our Legislative
Strictly Social Virtual Coffee Hour. We
invite you to grab a cup of coffee at 9:00
a.m. on Tuesday, April 28, and hear from legislators about current
Normally, our annual series of statewide
receptions is an ideal way for you, the Maine business leader, to interact
with business associates, new and prospective Maine State Chamber members, and
state representatives in a relaxed setting. This year, due to the COVID-19
situation, we will be hosting this
event online as a coffee hour with Sen. Eloise Vitelli, Sen. Jeff Timberlake,
Rep. Ryan Fecteau, and, Rep. Trey Stewart. Our panel of legislators will open
the hour, and there will be an opportunity for questions through the Zoom
chat feature. Please join us for this presentation. A participation link will
be sent to you after you have completed registration. Learn
more or register here.
Thank You To
Our Generous Sponsors!
A special thank you to
our sponsors from the Legislative Strictly Social, which has now become the
Legislative Strictly Social Coffee Hour, due to the need for social
distancing during this pandemic. Your continued support is greatly
Casella Waste Systems, Inc.; Central Maine
Backyard Farms, LLC;
Brookfield Renewable Energy
Altria Client Services LLC; American
Chemistry Council; Bank of America; Dead River Company; Emera Maine; Finance
Authority of Maine; Hannaford Supermarkets; MaineHealth; Merrill's
Investigations & Security; Mitchell Tardy Jackson Government Affairs;
PhRMA; Preti Flaherty, LLP; Spectrum Healthcare Partners; The Sheridan
Corporation; Unitil Corp.
Bangor Savings Bank; Charter
Communications; Cross Insurance; E.A. Scribner Insurance Agency, Inc.;
Elanco; Enterprise Holdings; IDEXX Laboratories, Inc.; Maine Better
Transportation Association; MEMIC; Maine Primary Care Association
opportunities are still available for this event.
Questions can be
directed to Angela S. Arno, director of programs and events for the Maine
State Chamber of Commerce,
Biddeford trucking company
offers free service for pandemic response
According to today's Mainebiz
Dog Carriers, a trucking and logistics company in Biddeford, has launched
a campaign that delivers essential supplies to Mainers in need. In response
to the COVID-19 crisis, the
"helping paw" campaign seeks to make a connection between Maine
companies, organizations and individuals to deliver personal protective
equipment, food or supplies or other pandemic-related essential goods.
SPONSORS: Bangor Savings Bank,
Central Maine Power Company
Additional webinars will be forthcoming,
opportunities are available. Questions can be directed
to Angela S. Arno, director of programs and events for the Maine State
Chamber of Commerce, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or
calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 104.
April 29 | Starting at 11:00 a.m.
WEBINAR FOR SOLE PROPRIETOR BUSINESSES:
This webinar will focus on the short- and
long-term issues arising from the pandemic for sole proprietors - with
suggested solutions. Topics covered will include a review of up-to-date
federal and state legislative opportunities, tax issues to discuss with your
accountant, insurance liability, health insurance options, credit protection,
and steps for sole proprietors to take with customers. There will also be a
brief review of pertinent estate planning options during the pandemic.
Register here | Sponsored by Lambert Coffin
May 6 | Starting at 11:00 a.m.
WE ARE STILL FINALIZING THIS WEBINAR
TOPIC TO BE ANNOUNCED
May 13 | Starting at 11:00 a.m.
RECENT STATE AND FEDERAL TAX CHANGES
This webinar will focus on federal tax
changes contained in the CARES Act and changes made at the state level that
provide support for businesses during this pandemic. Additional topics also
include a look at the ever-changing landscape at the federal level for
additional stimulus funds and what those changes might look like.
Register here | Sponsored by Pierce Atwood and WIPFLi,
NAVIGATING THE LEGAL AND
on Wednesday, April 15 | Listen to the recording here
The Maine State Chamber thanks our April
15 webinar presenters and sponsors: Rudman & Winchell; TD Bank; and,
Albin, Randall and Bennett.
THE INTERSECTION OF WORKERS' COMP AND COVID-19
Presented on Wednesday, April 22 | Listen to the recording here
Maine State Chamber thanks our April 22 webinar presenters and sponsors: MEMIC,
MaineHealth / Synernet, Preti Flaherty, and United Insurance
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