On May 3, 2020, the SBA updated its FAQs regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) under the CARES Act.  Among other things, the updated FAQs finally addressed this issue:  What happens to an employer’s ability to have its PPP loan forgiven if employees refuse to return from layoff and thus an employer cannot meet the required full-time employee ratio in connection with the required 75% expenditure of loan proceeds on “payroll costs” during the 8-week Coverage Period?

The SBA’s FAQ No. 40 provides expressly:

40. Question: Will a borrower’s PPP loan forgiveness amount (pursuant to section 1106 of the CARES Act and SBA’s implementing rules and guidance) be reduced if the borrower laid off an employee, offered to rehire the same employee, but the employee declined the offer?

Answer: No. As an exercise of the Administrator’s and the Secretary’s authority under Section 1106(d)(6) of the CARES Act to prescribe regulations granting de minimis exemptions from the Act’s limits on loan forgiveness, SBA and Treasury intend to issue an interim final rule excluding laid-off employees whom the borrower offered to rehire (for the same salary/wages and same number of hours) from the CARES Act’s loan forgiveness reduction calculation. The interim final rule will specify that, to qualify for this exception, the borrower must have made a good faith, written offer of rehire, and the employee’s rejection of that offer must be documented by the borrower. Employees and employers should be aware that employees who reject offers of re-employment may forfeit eligibility for continued unemployment compensation.

While the SBA has not yet finalized their rules, this is good news for those employers who were lucky enough to obtain their PPP loan during the first round of government funding but who have experienced a number of employees who refuse to return to work.  Employers in this situation are cautioned, however, to be sure that the written offer of rehire (or recall to a furloughed employee) is clearly documented, that they can prove the employee received the written offer, and that they have documentation of the employee’s decline of the offer.  This documentation will be needed when applying for loan forgiveness at a future date.

A full copy of the SBA’s May 3, 2020 version of its FAQs regarding the PPP can be obtained at:  https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Paycheck-Protection-Program-Frequently-Asked-Questions.pdf

The Labor and Employment attorneys at Weintraub Tobin continue to wish you and yours good health during this very unsettling time.  If we can assist you in any of your employment law needs, feel free to reach out to one of us.