"I don't want to pretend that today marks the end of our economic problems, nor does it constitute all of what we're going to have to do to turn our economy around," said Obama, who signed the bill at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, underscoring its hope of creating environmentally-friendly jobs.
"But today does mark the beginning of the end; the beginning of what we need to do to create jobs for Americans scrambling in the wake of layoffs; the beginning of what we need to do to provide relief for families worried that they won't be able to pay next month's bills; the beginnings of the first steps to set our economy on a firmer foundation, paving the way to long-term growth and prosperity." Read the full Boston Globe story.
The stimulus plan contains specific measures that will effect most businesses across the country, including a COBRA subsidy for laid-off workers, hiring incentives and new HR requirements.
Roughly $21 billion of the stimulus package is available to help workers who have been laid off to keep their employer-provided health insurance through COBRA, the federal law that gives unemployed workers the right to maintain their employer health insurance after a layoff.
The federal government will pay 65 percent of COBRA premiums for a period of nine months for employees who are laid off from September 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009. Employers will receive a payroll tax credit to offset the subsidy. Employers must notify former employees who are eligible for the new subsidy by March 1.
Documents will have to be updated as the new rule requires that information on the COBRA subsidy is to be included in employers' COBRA notices.
The stimulus also outlines tax benefits for hiring certain types of workers. If your company hires an unemployed military veteran or a person who didn’t finish high school, you could receive a $2,400 per employee tax credit as part of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. The two new classes of qualified workers were added to the “target group” of disadvantaged workers.
Other HR requirements included in the stimulus plan:
- An increase of weekly unemployment benefits by $25.
- An extension of the temporary emergency unemployment compensation program through December 2009. The program provides up to 33 weeks of extended unemployment benefits.
- Unemployment compensation to workers who leave an employer for "compelling family reasons," such as domestic violence, illness or disability of an immediate family member.
As the Department of Labor releases more information on the compete details of the stimulus plan and what will be required of businesses, G.Neil's legal team will be there to help make sure your organization is fully compliant.
Please check back often or subscribe to our blog for the latest updates on how the stimulus plan impacts your business.
For more on how the stimulus package will impact your business, read:
USA Today - Employers fear cost of health insurance for jobless workers
HR Morning - Obama stimulus package contains 6 big paperwork changes for you
Boston Globe - Stimulus is signed as storm builds
About.com: Human Resources - Economic stimulus package and COBRA