Mar. 19, 2020

Unemployment compensation requirements eased to help displaced employees

HARRISBURG – Businesses impacted by coronavirus and efforts to mitigate its spread are now able to apply for disaster assistance loans available through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). 

“While we have to prioritize the health and safety of our citizens, we also must recognize the devastating impact mitigation efforts are having on small businesses across our region and the Commonwealth,” Owlett said. “Business owners and their employees are being hit hard financially by reductions in operations or complete closures. We need to do all we can to help these employers to survive economically and be able to recover enough to bring their employees back on the payroll as soon as feasible.”

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. 

The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for nonprofits is 2.75%.

SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

Businesses may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or by e-mailing
Loan applications can also be downloaded at Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at Completed applications should be returned to the local DLOC or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155. The deadline to return economic injury disaster loan applications is Dec. 21, 2020.

As early as next week, the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) is expected to start taking applications for its Small Business First Program, which has $60 million in funding available to provide zero interest loans to small businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees. Loans of up to $100,000 will be available to small businesses to use as working capital. In addition to a 0% interest rate, there will be no application fees and the terms will include no payments and no interest during the first year of the loan.

The Commonwealth has also made several adjustments to its unemployment compensation (UC) program to help displaced employees as well as employers. Employees may be eligible if:
Your employer temporarily closes or goes out of business because of COVID-19.
Your employer reduces your hours because of COVID-19.
You have been told not to work because your employer feels you might get or spread COVID-19.
You have been told to quarantine or self-isolate, or live/work in a county under government-recommended mitigation efforts.

Also, the standard one-week waiting period has been suspended. Applicants are encouraged to apply online for quicker processing at

Employers are also eligible to seek relief from charges. Additional information is available at

For additional information about COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, visit

Representative Clint Owlett
68th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives