New Law to Pay Sidelined School Bus Companies: COVID-19 Transportation Update – Sunday, April 19, 2020
New Jersey Passes Law To Pay School Bus Contractors Sidelined by COVID-19!
On April 14, 2020, New Jersey school bus contractors received significant help when the State enacted a new law for school districts adapting to the COVID-19 lockdown. The new law allowed for school districts to submit plans to achieve 180 days of instruction for the 2019-20 school year, including adopting remote learning programs due to COVID-19. For school bus contractors, there was some welcome help in the new law. NJ Assembly bill A3904 (as amended by the Senate on April 13, 2020) included a last-minute addition that specifically addressed the economic pain being experienced by school bus contractors:
- “If the schools of a school district are subject to a health-related closure for a period longer than three consecutive school days,… then the school district shall continue to make payments of benefits, compensation, and emoluments pursuant to the terms of a contract with a contracted service provider in effect on the date of the closure as if the services for such benefits, compensation, and emoluments had been provided, and as if the school facilities had remained open. Payments received by a contracted service provider… shall be used to meet the payroll and fixed costs obligations of the contracted service provider.”
Under the law, a school district shall make all reasonable efforts to renegotiate a contract in good faith subject to this paragraph and may direct contracted service providers. Negotiations shall not include indirect costs such as fuel or tolls. So, for New Jersey’s school bus contractors, this new law provides them an avenue to negotiate directly with their school districts to be able to pay employees, as well as meet expenses related to insurance and vehicle maintenance. As a condition of negotiations, a contracted service provider shall reveal to the school district whether the entity has insurance coverage for business interruption covering work stoppages. As promising as this law may be, it only means that the New Jersey school bus contractors now begin the negotiations with the school districts. Even so, for school bus contractors in other states, including New York, there is no similar legislation to provide help with contracts as the schools have shifted to remote learning as the lockdown continues for the 2019-20 school year. Transportation Practice Group staff at Windels Marx are representing several school bus operators in multiple states to renegotiate contracts with government entities or to seek compensation for school bus providers under existing agreements. If your school bus company needs help or representation on such matters, reach out directly to Matt Daus at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-237-1106.
Matt Daus Predicts Future COVID-19 Ground Transport Industry Regulations in Presentation to European Government Transportation Officials
Matt Daus participated in an international webinar sponsored by PIARC – the Permanent International Association of Road Congresses (formerly the World Road Association) on Wednesday, April 15, providing an overview of the latest impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on transportation in United States and Canadian cities, states and provinces, including responses by transportation officials and other governmental institutions. Preliminary results of a survey conducted by the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR) www.iatr.global were shared covering actions taken by regulators, including licensing fee and renewal deferrals/extensions, cessation of vehicle inspections and enforcement, bans on ride sharing, and innovative programs to help the industry recover. Matt joined a discussion among government officials from Italy, France, Norway and the United Kingdom concerning the impact of COVID-19 on roads and traffic, as well as a return to business that is taking place already in some parts of the world. To view the webinar, click here.
EEOC Pandemic Guidance
As many states move to open businesses, transportation companies should familiarize themselves with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”), “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act Guide.” In an earlier news alert, the EEOC reminded employers of its 2009 guidance that has been updated, and that the prohibitions set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the CDC’s, “Interim Guidance for a Businesses and Employers.” Employers are advised that the ADA places general restrictions on the kinds of inquiries that can be made into an employee’s medical status. The ADA prohibits employers from making disability-related inquiries and requiring medical examinations, unless: (1) the employer can show that the inquiry or exam is job-related and consistent with business necessity, or (2) where the employer has a reasonable belief that the employee poses a direct threat to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot otherwise be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation. Finally, transportation companies should continue to monitor the WHO, CDC, state and city health agencies and government websites for local information on the Coronavirus. If you have any questions, please contact Matt Daus, partner and Transportation Practice Group Chair at email@example.com. Our team includes top employment lawyers who specialize in representing transportation companies, including Hon. Patricia Gatling, now Counsel to our practice and the former NYC Human Rights Commissioner/Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights to NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo.
New SBA Guidance for Independent Contractors for PPP Loans!
For those transportation companies and independent contractors with an interest in applying for the PPP loans, we have updated the resource guides to include the most recent information from the SBA:
- Updated the FAQs for PPP Loans based on the new SBA guidance for independent contractor-drivers can be found here.
- Updated Checklist and Worksheet/Calculator for PPP Loan applicants can be found here.
Matthew W. Daus