First, the legal disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.
Second: this is a living document that will be updated as questions come in and answers change. The page will have a last updated tag and any changes to specific answers will be marked in a different color and timestamped.
Last updated: April 2 at 9:25 a.m.
Will the PLCB accept returns on unopened bottles of product that has been purchased in the last 30 days? No. The PLCB is closed.
Do I need to send my liquor license to the PLCB while I am closed? No. That provision is suspended indefinitely.
Do I have to renew my liquor license? No. Liquor license renewals are not required at this time.
Is the PLCB was allowing restaurants to offer one bottle of wine for sale with takeout purchases without having a Wine Expanded Permit? No. This is technically illegal.
Has the PLCB allowed "R" licensees to sell up to 3 liters of wine to go during the pandemic? No. The PLCB has declined to allow restaurants to sell wine to go without a Wine Expanded Permit.
What is the rule for the adult slushies that distributors sell? Can an "R" license sell them? There are different types of “adult slushies” depending on the type of alcohol that is used, and different ones can be sold in different places. The ones sold by beer distributors can only be made with malt or brewed beverages. They can only be sold for off-premises consumption, they cannot be mixed with anything (not even ice), and they must be sold in a refillable container that can be resealed. The same requirements that apply to tap cleaning apply to cleaning these slushie machines. As an R licensee, you are allowed to sell slushies made with malt or brewed beverages to go as long as you follow these same guidelines. If you have a wine expanded permit, you can also sell slushies made with wine to go. You are NOT allowed to sell slushies made with liquor or spirits.
How do I apply for a Transporter-for-Hire permit? Retail licensees can apply for a Class B Transporter-for-Hire license at PLCB+, which allows you to sell malt and brewed beverages for delivery. The cost is $700 for a new application + $30 filing fee + $160 for the license itself. The annual renewal fee is $160. PLEASE NOTE:Even if you have a Wine Expanded Permit, there is no way under current legislation for you to deliver wine to go.
PRLA hosted a webinar on March 24 on the FFCRA. Experts from Post & Schell PC reviewed the provisions of the act and what it means for you, your business, and your employees. You can view the recording here.
When does the FFCRA take effect? April 1.
Which businesses does the law apply to? FFCRA only applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees.
What does the FFCRA do? There are two major provisions of the act. 1) It provides an emergency expansion to the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 2) It provides emergency paid sick leave.
How does it expand FMLA? FFCRA temporarily amends FMLA to provide certain employees with up to 12 weeks of FMLA-protected leave for reasons related to COVID-19.
How do I know if my employees are eligible for the FMLA or Sick Leave? An employee is eligible for the FMLA aspect of FFCRA if they have been employed for 30 days. The sick leave component of FFCRA goes into effect on day one the employee is with the business.
How does this law apply to businesses that have laid off employees? It does not apply to employees who were laid off prior to April 1.
Are people in counties under a stay-at-home order allowed to get food from a restaurant? Yes. Residents of counties under a stay-at-home order are allowed to go to a restaurant to pick up food. Restaurants in these counties are still considered essential businesses and are allowed to sell food for pick-up or delivery.
Gov. Wolf banned short-term rentals. Does this include bed & breakfasts/inns? In the supplemental FAQ document released by the state (page 10, question 36), it states that this prohibition does not apply to hotels, motels, inns, resorts, non-transient public lodging establishments, or time-share projects.
Should restaurant owners consider creating limited menus with specials to help with inventory control? Focus on menu items you can prepare and package easily for drive-thru, pick-up, and take-out. Some restaurants continue to offer their entire menu for takeout. Others are limiting items due to the high cost of maintaining inventory when sales are down. Think about menus items that are popular, quick to serve, travel well, and fulfill the needs of home-bound families and individuals.
When restaurants open back up will there be any limitations? Or will everything go back to normal procedures and rules? At this point in time it is hard to have an answer for that. Continuing normality in our industry is our goal and we will be here to relay information with continued information from the Governor.
Hotels How will this affect the hotel industry? Hotels in Pennsylvania are considered an essential business and will not be required to close. Hotels must shut down dine-in restaurants, pools, and fitness centers. Room service and take-out from the restaurants still permitted. The federal and state governments are surveying hoteliers to identify those who are willing to enter into temporary leases for certain types of lodging properties at this time. TAKE FEDERAL SURVEYTake PA Feeding & Sheltering Survey
If a guest or staff member of a hotel is diagnosed with the virus will the hotel be required to close? Quarantine it’s staff? Under OSHA, it is recommended that employers develop policies and procedures for immediately isolating people who have signs and/or symptoms of COVID-19. If onsite isolation isn’t available, potentially sick people should be removed from the work-site.
Paid Time Off
Will hotel workers receive paid sick leave? Your company's policies on paid time off, including sick leave, will dictate available benefits. If you operate in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, you must follow the local sick leave laws.
Can you tell me some information on Philadelphia's paid sick leave? Hours can be carried over year to year but are maxed out at 40 hours a year.
Are restaurants required to pay paid sick leave during this time? Employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to work with their employers to first exhaust any paid leave that is available. Paid leave is typically available immediately and pays the employee at a higher rate than UC, which may take two to four weeks to receive and may replace only 50 to 70 percent of an employee's typical pay. Employees who do not have access to paid leave, or have exhausted their paid leave, may be eligible for UC.
Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) Loans
What are PIDA loans? Up to $100,000 is available as a loan to businesses with 100 employees or fewer. The loan must be paid off in 3 years. There is no required payment in year 1 but there is a balloon payment in year 3.
How much money is available through PIDA? There is only $60 million available in PIDA loans.
How do businesses apply for a PIDA loan? Through their local Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO). Refer to the CEDO webpage for a list of CEDOs in Pennsylvania.
Take Out / Delivery
If restaurants have outdoor seating, can customers order food for take-out, and then sit outside to eat? Can we “deliver” to our outdoor seating? No. Outdoor seating is considered dine-in service and may not be served.
Can customers enter your restaurant to order food to-go? Yes, unless you operate in Philadelphia. However, you should encourage all customers to pre-order their food and employ social distancing strategies to prevent groups of people from congregating.
What are the rules for take out, carry out, delivery, and drive-thru in Philadelphia? When Mayor Kenney issued the stay-at-home order that took effect on March 23, the following rules were established:
No customers will be permitted inside the restaurant to order food or wait for food. The customer may enter the premises to pick up and pay for an order.
All orders must be placed by phone, online, or other non-contact methods.
Orders may be delivered to the customer curbside, by a delivery service, or by the customer entering the premises to pick up an item that has been pre-ordered.
Drive-thru service is still permitted.
Customers are not permitted to order from "window service" and wait for their order. They must pre-order and then pick it up.
Food trucks and ice cream trucks are prohibited. customers may not enter the store to order food.
With respect to staying open and a take-out only policy, customers are allowed to enter the establishment and pick up and pay? It is not necessary to be curbside outside the restaurant? Yes, customers may enter to pick up and pay. It is not necessary to employ curbside pickup if you are able to offer take-out services, and are implementing safe social distancing. Please note: In Philadelphia, customers may not enter the establishment to place their order. All orders must be made in advance via phone, online, or other non-contact method.
How can we educate restaurant workers on contactless delivery/take out? ServSafe recently launched two, new free on-demand training modules to address COVID-19 precautions for takeout and delivery. It's available in English and Spanish. SERVSAFE Takeout and Delivery: COVID-19 Precautions
We have been informed that some counties and cities are creating a stricter standard for takeout and those changes are being communicated locally. If a county has its own health department, we believe they are able to set a tighter standard than the state.
What do you suggest for finding people to deliver take out/online orders? Advertise temporary employment via your website and social media channels. If you have open positions, you can post them to the PRLA's Job Board, free of charge. Many people are experiencing lay-offs and are in need of work.
How do I get started with a third-party delivery service like UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates, or GrubHub? Visit their websites to get started. Read the contract carefully. Some are waiving or deferring commission payments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
How do I post an open position on PRLA's Job Board? Click on the PRLA Job Board and choose “Post A Job Without An Account.” At the end of the process you will have the opportunity to apply the discount code (COVID-19) to make your balance due $0.00.
How can we all help support the messaging of online/take out orders? Meaning it's tough as a consumer to determine, which restaurants decided to close totally vs. the ones who are trying to deliver orders. We are all flooded with emails; it would be great to see it all compiled in one area. Visit CarryOutPA.com to either add your business or search open businesses. Share this graphic with your social followers.
PRLA hosted a webinar on Friday, March 20, which was presented by Barley Snyder's Michael Crocenzi, partner in the firm's Employment Law and Litigation Groups. WEBINAR RECORDING
Guidance for Employees
How do employees file for unemployment? They should file their application online at uc.pa.gov to get started.
I'm a tipped worker. What rate do I use? Your benefit amount is based on total wages, including tips reported by the employer. Use your average hourly rate.
Can an employee receive UC benefits and social security benefits? Yes, an employee can receive the full amount of both benefits at the same time.
When should employees file for unemployment? Immediately. The Department of Labor & Industry has suspended the waiting week requirement and waived the work search and work registration requirements.
How long before employees receive their first check? Even though the waiting week is suspended, it's still taking 3-4 weeks for the initial check to be received.
What if the employee doesn't have a checking account? For individuals without a bank account or direct deposit, a debit card will be mailed to you automatically. MORE INFO
Am I eligible for unemployment compensation if I am still working? Yes, you may qualify for partial benefit. The Unemployment Compensation Office has a calculation for determining what that partial benefit will be.
Do salaried employees qualify for unemployment compensation? Salaried employees may apply for unemployment compensation. The Unemployment Compensation Office will then determine if they are entitled to a partial benefit.
Is there any relief for undocumented workers? Undocumented workers are not eligible to collect unemployment compensation benefits. PRLA is currently sourcing all relief efforts across the Commonwealth and will be sharing resources as they are identified.
Guidance for Employers
Is it better to cut hours or lay off my employees? That is certainly up to the employer. However, employees may qualify for partial benefits if their hours have been reduced or maybe even full-benefits if their hours have been reduced significantly.
Does an employer have to inform layoffs in writing or is a phone call okay? You may make a phone call to inform of layoffs.
What’s the difference between a layoff and a furlough? In unemployment compensation law there’s not a distinction. A furlough is considered a temporary layoff. A layoff is because of economic reasons or the proclamation that it is permanent.
Can employers require an employee to use all paid time off prior to filing for unemployment compensation? This would be determined by the policies in your handbook and how you handle paid time off. Employers do have the ability to change their handbook policies at any time, as long as notification is provided to employees. If you do require your employees to use PTO, then both the employer and the employee need to report those payments to the Unemployment Compensation Office if/when the employee applies for benefits. Can employers legally give cash "gifts" to their employees while they are collecting unemployment benefits? No. Cash gifts could be considered taxable wages by the IRS or ultimately affect your employee's compensation benefits.
How can employers ensure their employees receive unemployment benefits? Employers can help expedite this process by filling out questionnaires from the office of Employment Security the best they can. If asked why the employee is out of work, you will need to indicate that its lack of work because you’re shut down. This will certainly help the employee's application get processed.
What if the employer or the employee disagrees with the benefit rate? Both employer and employee have the right to appeal the benefit rate.
Is an employee eligible for unemployment compensation if they are still working? Yes, they may qualify in a part-time capacity or partial benefit. There is a calculation that the compensation office does in determining how much of a partial benefit the employee may receive.
Do salaried employees qualify for unemployment compensation? Salaried employees may apply for unemployment compensation. The UC office will then determine if they are entitled to a partial benefit.
Can employees that receive 1099 receive unemployment compensation? No. These employees are considered independent contractors.
If a business is only open for a short period such as 6 weeks, are my employees eligible for unemployment? Possibly. If the employee was working for another employer before they started at your business, they could collect unemployment benefits through their previous employer. Unemployment will pick up multiple employers during that base year.
How will this affect my unemployment compensation insurance rate? Right now, it should not impact your rate. The government will allow an employer Relief From Charges for these type of claims so they will not factor in calculating the contribution rate. However, we don't know what the long-term impact will be.
How will laying off my employees impact their health insurance coverage? This is governed by your plan policy and you should check with your broker about your plan terms. Your broker can also inform you on COBRA options.
Can I suspend paid time off payments if I'm forced to close my business? Yes. If cash flow is low, you may suspend the use of PTO.
Can an employer suspend any paid time off to be earned during layoffs? Yes.
We are a seasonal business. How does Unemployment Compensation work for staff that just started back to work? Employees who have received unemployment compensation during the winter and now are off again because of COVID-19 should reopen their claim. If your employees were working other jobs, they may still file for unemployment under the circumstances of COVID-19. If they are a new employee that just started with you and for a short amount of time, then they may still be eligible for unemployment.
If I delay returns of my seasonal employees, will their benefits be extended? At this point in time (March 20), the limit is 26 weeks for unemployment compensation. The UC benefit limit may be extended in the future as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but that has not happened yet.
Are full-time students under the age of 18 eligible for unemployment compensation? Yes, if they meet the eligibility requirements.
Can an owner of a company receive UC benefits? A sole proprietor or partnership cannot receive UC benefits. If an LLC has accepted corporate status for federal tax purposes, a sole member of an LLC is considered an employee and would be able to file for UC benefits. For multi-member LLCs, a member would be able to file for UC benefits if the LLC has accepted corporate status for federal tax purposes or the member is a nominal member, meaning he/she does not contribute much to the management of the LLC.
Will the UC Service Center be able to email the employer questionnaire instead of mailing it? We have not seen anything that the UC Service Centers are able to email the questionnaires. If an employer is not able to get mail or complete the form in time, I don’t believe it should hold up the processing of an employee’s claim. The UC Service Centers are currently overwhelmed with claims and this may be more a reason for any delays.
Can employees that refuse to come into work when the business is still open eligible for unemployment? It depends. If an employee was scheduled to work and they don’t want to work, they may not qualify for unemployment. That would be considered a voluntary quit under unemployment compensation law. However, the employee may indicate it was for compelling reasons, such as COVID-19, and request their claim still be considered for eligibility.
If we rehire an employee during the 26 week period and they refuse to come back to work, will they continue to receive unemployment? If you offer work and the employee refuses it, then it is recommended that you notify the unemployment compensation service center for the determination of eligibility.
Do I owe my February sales tax payments? Yes. Despite PRLA's efforts to preserve cash flow for small businesses, the Department of Revenue determined that they were still considered due on March 20.
What about April pre-payments? The department is waiving the AST prepayment requirement and asking businesses to simply remit the sales tax that they collect in March.