The paycheck protection program that was offered during the coronavirus pandemic created some unforeseen issues between businesses and their employees. Local news for Massachusetts reported on the struggle one small business went through to get financial assistance, the consequences of these actions, and strained relationships with workers.
Workers upset that their jobs pay less than unemployment
When businesses were forced to close in the area, the owner shut her spa down and halted payments to all 35 of her employees. She also applied to, and received approximately $200,000 worth of forgivable loans from the federal government through programs that were started specifically to assist businesses in similar situations during the forced shutdowns. This would allow her to keep employees on the payroll, and the loan could be forgiven if any terminated employees are rehired before June 30th.
When the owner communicated the details of the loans and assistance program to her employees, she says that they were almost universally frustrated and angry. The workers had looked into the increased unemployment benefits that were a part of the federal program, and they realized they would receive more money by simply not working and applying for benefits through the state government. The owner said she was shocked that her employees viewed her as someone who was taking a windfall of money away from them. She even considered increasing their wages to compete with the amounts given through the new unemployment program. Other entrepreneurs and business owners expressed similar frustrations, due to the fact that the federal government provides an additional $600 beyond normal state unemployment. This means that the average American worker could receive approximately $1000 weekly by being unemployed.
Some workers are ineligible for unemployment benefits because their employer has kept them on the payroll, but they are actually making much less money this way, especially if their hours are reduced. Once an employer has confirmed that they are participating in the loan program, the state will not allow an individual to collect unemployment benefits. Most owners say they believe their workers will stay with their employers and emotions will begin to settle over time, but the current situation has created many frustrations.
Remedies for workers
When a worker has issues with getting proper payment for all of the hours they have worked and related problems, their finances and ability to survive can be seriously affected. Your labor attorney can make sure you are paid back wages or other monetary damages if your employer has done anything illegal.
Speak with a labor lawyer in Massachusetts
Some lawyers focus only on assisting workers with issues related to proper payment or disputes with their superiors. You can use the listings on USAttorneys.com to find the right attorney in your city.