Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa) introduced new legislation that would allow small businesses to use federal funding to buy personal protective equipment for their workers.
The bill would formally allow small businesses to use funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as loans to buy protective equipment for their employees. It also removes a requirement that small businesses use 75% of their loan on payroll. This will allow greater flexibility to address business needs.
Many states are starting to allow businesses to reopen to the public, which is good news for employees who want to get back to work. The downside, however, is that means more workers are placed in a vulnerable situation where they could catch COVID-19 and pass germs onto their families. Providing more protective gear for workers will help to keep employees and their families healthy as well as help keep businesses up and running.
“As more communities and businesses begin opening up, we must remain vigilant against the ongoing threat of COVID-19,” Finkenauer said in a statement. “Our new normal will continue to require personal protective equipment and additional safeguards for workers. My common-sense bill will help our small businesses provide that equipment for folks as they work and give them the flexibility needed to stay in businesses and continue providing paychecks. Congress should move quickly to adopt this legislation and help our Main streets and hard-working Iowans.”
As of April, unemployment had increased drastically in the United States. For months the national unemployment rate had hovered around 4% but with the onset of the global pandemic the unemployment rate jumped to nearly 15%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This jump was the highest increase in month-over-month unemployment since 1948. A total of 23.1 million people were suddenly unemployed.
Getting employees back to work as safely and efficiently as possible is key to improving the economy and bringing the country into our new normal.
According to Finkenauer’s office the provisions in the new legislation will “ensure that workers have proper protections from COVID-19 as they work and that businesses are able to meet expenses and keep employees on payroll.”