Layoff Prevention Fund Relaunched with $4 Million
Employers who applied for first round and did not obtain the $50,000 maximum may reapply
SAN JUAN — As a measure to prevent layoffs amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Puerto Rico Economic Development Secretary-designate Manuel Cidre announced Wednesday the availability for employers of $4 million under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
Cidre said that “in April 2020, 552 applications were approved for a total of $7.1 million to assist pandemic-affected employers avoid layoffs.”
“The funds were increased to an additional $4 million and eligibility criteria was made more flexible, so that individuals with more than one D/B/A [doing business as] or corporation can apply. In addition, we will be allowing employers who applied and did not reach the $50,000 cap to apply again,” Cidre said in a statement.
The aid is in addition to the $65 million Coronavirus Relief Fund announced by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, which was created to help boost the economy by providing business owners with incentives to keep their businesses open.
Cidre stressed that the administration’s priority is to foster economic development by offering all the incentives it can provide for employment to stay close to pre-pandemic levels.
“I urge all employers who need this assistance to continue their business in optimal conditions within these circumstances, to apply for these funds as soon as possible,” Cidre said, while noting that the aid is available “and we want you to make the most of it. It will be very beneficial for employers and employees during these times of transition, in which commercial activity is gradually normalized due to the pandemic.”
The Labor Development Program Director of the Economic Development and Commerce Department (DDEC by its Spanish initials), Jenny Mar Cañón Feliciano, explained that $50,000 per individual or corporation will be awarded to cover such expenses as the purchase of remote access equipment to allow employees to work from their homes; purchase of related programs or applications; staff training so employees can work remotely; supplies (such as masks, gloves and disinfectant); cleaning services; and operational expenses.
However, the funds cannot be utilized for payroll or loan payments.
“So far, this Covid-19 Layoff Prevention Fund has managed to safeguard 11,510 jobs and 552 businesses that continue to operate in Puerto Rico,” Cañón said. “Our north is that, with the additional funds available for that purpose, more employers and workers can benefit from it. We are available to guide you at the Labor Development Program through the processes that must be carried out to qualify as soon as possible.”
For more information, visit www.refuerzoeconomico.com or call 787-754-5504, ext. 5286.