As of March 20, 2020, the United States Treasury Department announced the following COVID-19 tax deadline guidelines, giving certain taxpayers and businesses an additional 90 days to file and pay their 2019 tax liability. The U.S. Virgin Islands have also adopted these guidelines.  Here are the key dates.

Tax return deadline – July 15, 2020. Your tax filing is now due on this date. If you need more time, you can request an extension to October 15, 2020. Read the FAQs below for details.

Tax payment deadline – July 15, 2020. If you owe income taxes for 2019, you can delay your IRS payment until this time. You will not owe interest or penalties if you pay before this deadline.

Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus tax deadline changes:

Q. Who is eligible for the tax filing and payment deferral?

A. The following types of filers are eligible to use the special coronavirus tax extension.

  • Individual Form 1040 filers
  • Corporations filing Form 1120
  • Trusts and estates filing Form 1041
  • Fiscal year partnerships, associations and companies with due dates on April 15, 2020 (uncommon)

Q. What do I need to do to delay my filing and tax payment?

A. You must file your tax return or extension by July 15 as you normally would. The 90-day tax payment deferral itself is automatic when you file, which means interest and penalties are automatically waived for 90 days and won’t accrue for qualifying taxpayers and businesses until after July 15.

Q. What if I need more time to prepare my return?

A. You must file Form 4868 to request an extension by July 15, 2020. This extension would give you until October 15 to file your return, but your payment would still be due by the extended payment deadline, July 15, 2020.

Q. What if I’m getting a refund? Does this news affect me at all?

A. It should not affect you if you’re receiving a refund.

Q. What types of payments does this deferral cover?

A. It covers income tax payments, as well as any normally associated interest and penalties, such as the failure-to-pay penalty. It also covers estimated tax payments (included payments of tax on self-employment income) due on April 15, 2020, for the 2020 tax year.

Q. How much can I defer?

A. There is no limit on the amount of tax payment you can defer.

Q. Does this deferral apply to 2020 estimated tax payments (including estimated self-employment taxes)?

A. Both the first quarter 2020 estimated tax payment otherwise due on April 15, 2020, and the second quarter 2020 estimated tax payment otherwise due on June 15, 2020 are deferred until July 15, 2020.

Other Important 2020 Deadlines

Tax Amnesty Period:  This year, the Legislature of the Virgin Islands also established an Amnesty Program aimed at those taxpayers that have outstanding Gross Receipts tax obligations as well outstanding Income Tax and Real Property Tax obligations.  This program will extend from January 1, 2020 through July 28, 2020 for Gross Receipts and Income Taxes and through July 17, 2020 for Real Property Taxes.  If outstanding Gross Receipts and Real Property Taxes are paid by that date, then all penalties and interest on those amounts shall be waived.   Delinquent Income Tax balances are also entitled to a penalty waiver, but interest will still apply.

USVI COVID-19 Guidelines

The U.S. Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue has also provided additional guidance on procedures during the current State of Emergency regarding COVID-19. Those are as follows:

  1. The Bureau’s annual Taxpayer Assistance Program, which provides free taxpayer assistance on Saturdays, will be postponed until further notice. The Bureau will inform the taxpaying community when this program will be reinstated.
  2. All face to face appointments are cancelled for the next three weeks. Our staff will be reaching out to taxpayers to provide alternate methods of communication during the next three weeks.
  3. Taxpayers who need to clear imported goods at our excise tax offices are urged to utilize the online system to clear shipments, or utilize the services of a broker to limit face to face contact. The excise tax online system can be accessed via https//:excise.bir.vi.gov.
  4. Taxpayers who need to file any tax returns are asked to file by mail, with a certified receipt, if possible. Include a copy of the return along with a stamped self-addressed envelope in order for the Bureau to return your stamped copy. All local tax returns are due on the usual due dates. Penalties will be waived on a case by case basis.
  5. The 2019 income tax returns are due July 15th. Returns filed and paid by July 15th will have no interest or penalties assessed.
  6. The Bureau of Internal Revenue’s St. John office will be closed until further notice. The St. Thomas and St. Croix office hours will be from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Cashiering services will operate daily from 8:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m., until further notice.
  7. Taxpayers are asked to call the Bureau for assistance, in place of face to face visits.
  8. The Bureau’s staff stands ready to assist taxpayers via telephone, in order to satisfy their outstanding tax obligations. Please call 340-773-1040 on St. Croix and (340) 715-1040 on St. Thomas, and use the following extensions and email addresses for direct assistance:
Division

St. Croix

Extension

St. Thomas

Extension

E-mail address
Audit 4233 2271 pcranston@irb.gov.vi
Delinquent Accounts & Returns 4254 2232 secarr@irb.gov.vi
Processing 712-2513 2223 rdavis@irb.gov.vi
Excise 778-1021 3201 ghodge@irb.gov.vi
Director’s Office 4225 4225 cwilliams@irb.gov.vi

If you have any additional questions or legal needs regarding the 2020 tax deadlines, Attorney Adam N. Marinelli, Tax Counsel at BoltNagi, PC is available at (340) 774-2944 or amarinelli@vilaw.com.

Adam N. Marinelli is an Associate Attorney in the Corporate, Tax and Estate Planning Practice Group concentrating his practice in tax at BoltNagi, PC, a full service business law firm serving the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Probate administration is the legal process through which a person’s assets are distributed after their death. These assets can include money/accounts, personal possessions, real estate or any other items of value. The probate must also account for debts. During the probate process, the administrator or executor creates an inventory of these assets, pays off debts and then distributes what’s left after paying those debts to a person’s devisees and legatees in accordance with the deceased’s will (if one exists), or to their heirs at law if there is no will.

If you’ve been strategic with your estate planning, not all of your assets will have to go through the probate process. There are a number of types of “non-probate assets” that will allow you to bypass the process in part or in full.

Here are just a few reasons why this is a good strategy to consider in your estate planning.

  • The process can drag on and on: Probate can be an incredibly time-consuming process. Depending on the complexity of the estate, it could range from months to years before it’s complete. The longer the process takes, the longer the devisees and legatees or heirs have to wait before they can receive their inheritance.
  • It’s a public process: Because probate is judicially supervised, all of the information and documents included in that process are entered into public record. This means all of the assets and debts can be reviewed in the public record. For some people this isn’t a big deal, but others value their privacy.
  • It can cost your estate a lot of money: The costs of the probate administration process vary depending on the complexity of the estate, but it can, in some circumstances, become very expensive. These include legal fees, court fees, publishing/notice fees, and administrator/executor fees. There are advantages to avoiding the probate process, or at least significantly cutting down on the percentage of your estate that is subjected to the process.

A typical way to avoid probate is to create a living trust and place assets into that trust. Such a trust allows you to maintain privacy as you pass your assets on to your heirs while also incurring as little expense as possible.

A trust differs from a will in that a will simply distributes assets after your death, whereas a living trust holds those assets “in trust” to be managed by a trustee on behalf of your beneficiaries during your life and provides for how they will be distributed after your death. Because the property and assets are held in the trust, they can bypass the probate process.

For more information about probate avoidance methods and the benefits of employing them in your estate plan, contact one of BoltNagi PC’s experienced estate planning lawyers in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Steven K. Hardy, Esq. is Chair of the Corporate, Tax and Estate Planning Practice Group at BoltNagi PC, a full service business law firm located on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

When dealing with the foreclosure of a residential or commercial mortgage on a home, business, or other real property, it is crucial to have a trusted and capable attorney on hand to guide you through the process. Foreclosure laws differ in each state and territory, and local foreclosure practice can be highly idiosyncratic.  However, whether you are a lender with a portfolio of delinquent mortgage loans, a borrower who has fallen behind on payments, or a buyer who is interested in purchasing a property in foreclosure, it is important to understand what a foreclosure action involves, how the foreclosure process works in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and what alternatives to foreclosure might be better for your situation.

A foreclosure is a judicial process in which real property (usually a home or business) that a borrower has offered as security for a loan is sold by the court to satisfy the borrower’s delinquent loan debt.  The formal cause of action in the U.S. Virgin Islands may be called an “action for foreclosure of real property lien” or an “action for debt and foreclosure”.  Under either cause of action, the borrower’s rights in the property (as well as the rights of any junior lienholders) will be judicially terminated by the court, and the property will be sold at a public auction (called a “Marshal’s sale”) to satisfy the loan debt.

Here are some key points to consider regarding foreclosures in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  • Length of time: One of the most common foreclosure questions that we receive is how long will the process take. There are actually two parts to this question:  How long will it take to get a foreclosure judgment from the court, and how long will it take to get a deed to the foreclosed property?  Although every case is unique, an uncontested foreclosure action (i.e., where a borrower does not respond to the complaint) theoretically could go to judgment in about a year.  Due to the court’s caseload and other factors, however, a timeline of between 18 and 24 months from complaint to judgment is more typical.  After judgment is entered, it takes about 90 to 120 days for the property to go to sale, and it can take at least another 30-90 days (and sometimes longer) for the sale to be confirmed by the court. Furthermore, all foreclosed property in the Virgin Islands is subject to a six-month post-sale redemption period that cannot be shortened or waived without the consent of the borrower.  All together then, it can take two or more years for a foreclosure action to go from complaint to deed.  In extreme circumstances (such as in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, or in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic), the process can take longer.
  • Price: The other most common foreclosure question concerns how much it will cost. Again, every case is different depending on the property and the loan in question. The short answer for a lender is that the cost of an uncontested foreclosure action will run between $3,000 and $5,000, but the cost of a contested foreclosure (especially a commercial foreclosure) can be much higher.  This is because the judicial foreclosure process in the Virgin Islands cannot be fast-tracked or avoided (except by a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, discussed below).  Like most litigation, foreclosure is expensive for lenders and their loan servicers, and it is also expensive for the borrower, who stands to lose any accrued equity in the property (and, if the foreclosure is against a residential property, the emotional and financial cost of losing a home).
  • REO properties: In many cases, the only bidder at a foreclosure sale is the lender who made the original loan. REO (“real estate owned”) properties are properties that the lenders or their loan servicers acquire through the foreclosure process, which they generally will market and sell to new buyers in order to recoup their losses on the loan.  If the acquired properties are backed by institutions such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD, or the VA, the lender or servicer will convey those properties to these entities for eventual marketing and sale.
  • Deed in lieu of foreclosure: The most common method for avoiding foreclosure is for the borrower to voluntarily deed the property to the lender in exchange for a partial or complete discharge of the loan debt. A deed-in-lieu of foreclosure (“DIL”) avoids the longer and more expensive foreclosure process, and it also dispenses with the six-month redemption period.  Although a DIL can be a beneficial solution for both lenders and borrowers, it is not a feasible option in every case, such as when there are second mortgages on the property or the borrower does not meet the lenders hardship criteria for a DIL. Even where a DIL is warranted, a knowledgeable and experienced foreclosure or real estate attorney should draft the DIL and the supporting documents to avoid title issues or other conveyance problems.
  • Short sales: Short sales are a less common alternative to foreclosure, but they, too, avoid the cost and expense of litigation. Short sales occur when the lender agrees to allow the borrower to sell the property to a third party for less than what is owed on the loan. To qualify for a short sale, the borrower must meet the lender’s hardship criteria, and the buyer’s offer usually must be within a certain range of the property’s fair market value.  However, a short sale can be a long process, and short sale buyers need both patience and persistence (and a good real estate attorney) if they want to see it through.

Given the financial stakes facing both lenders and borrowers in a foreclosure action, it is critical for both parties to have skilled legal representation.  To learn more about the foreclosure process in the U.S. Virgin Islands, contact an experienced foreclosure or real estate attorney at BoltNagi PC today.

A. Jennings Stone is an attorney in the litigation practice group and concentrates his practice in the area of foreclosures at the law firm of BoltNagi PC. BoltNagi PC is a full-service business law firm in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

There are some circumstances in which a bank will offer a homeowner the option to pursue a deed in lieu of foreclosure rather than a short sale or other foreclosure alternative. In this process, a person hands over the deed to their home to the bank, bypassing the standard foreclosure process.

You may wonder why it’d be beneficial to hand over the deed to your home rather than go through a short sale, especially as there are cases in which the deed in lieu can favor a bank more than a homeowner. If you have equity in the home you can try to sell the home before you consider a deed in lieu, but there are some sellers who have a mortgage that is underwater, which means the amount owed is worth more than the value of the home.

A property does not necessarily have to be in foreclosure for a deed in lieu to begin. The lender does not necessarily need to have filed a default notice, or begun any official foreclosure proceedings in court. However, banks are also not under any obligation to accept deeds in lieu of foreclosure. Situations in which they’d be likely to decline a deed in lieu as an option include:

  • The action would not be profitable for the bank;
  • There exist tax liens, judgments or junior encumbrances on the property that would stay with the property and become the responsibility of the lender after the transfer of the deed;
  • There were unacceptable terms of the deed in lieu, such as the borrower being asked to make financial contributions in exchange for acceptance of the deed in lieu that the borrower rejects;
  • Servicing guidelines in existence that prohibit a deed in lieu from being used.

A deed in lieu is not always beneficial

While transferring a property through a deed in lieu and avoiding some of the worst parts of the foreclosure process can be beneficial in some cases, this is not always true. Here are some examples of some of the drawbacks associated with a deed in lieu:

  • It affects your credit: A deed in lieu does show up on a credit report, and it is not likely to be much better for your credit score than a full foreclosure, so don’t expect this to be a route to save your credit score.
  • It affects your ability to purchase another home: You’re not going to be able to transfer your deed and turn around and buy a new home. It may take at least four years before you’re able to get a mortgage again.
  • It doesn’t always release you from liability: You should make sure that any deed in lieu to which you agree releases you from liability for your loan, because this language isn’t always included in such agreements. If you’re still going to be pursued for mortgage money, there’s no point in handing over the deed.

For more information about the benefits and drawbacks of deeds in lieu, contact a skilled real estate attorney at BoltNagi PC in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A. Jennings Stone is an attorney in the litigation practice group and concentrates his practice in the area of foreclosures at the law firm of BoltNagi PC. BoltNagi PC is a full service business law firm in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

A commercial lease is an important part of your business operations — favorable terms on such a lease will put your company in a better position to succeed. Leases are almost always prepared by a landlord in a way that favors the landlord, but that doesn’t mean the terms of that lease are completely non-negotiable.

With this in mind, here are some tips to help you negotiate a commercial lease that can benefit you, and not just the property owner.

Look into what other businesses pay in rent for comparable properties

The amount of rent you pay is a compelling factor in your ability to be profitable and increase your margins on an ongoing basis. For this reason, you should do plenty of research into what other businesses pay in rent for similar properties in your area.

A portion of your rent negotiations should include future rent increases. Landlords often like to increase rent for every additional year of the lease term.  To keep your rent affordable, it is useful to discuss these increases at the outset of the agreement and work out a cap on these increases. You can also negotiate the amount of your security deposit and other lease terms.

Uncover hidden costs and negotiate them

Are all costs included in your rent, or are there extra costs that you will have to pay in addition to your rent? The terms of your lease may, for example, make you responsible for maintenance or upkeep of common areas on the property. Be sure to get information about all these potential costs up front, and to negotiate these terms so they are as favorable for you as possible.

Less-obvious hidden costs might arise in the context of extra costs that you will have to incur due to the nature of the property itself.  Will the location or condition of the property increase the cost of obtaining an affordable commercial liability insurance policy for your business?  Is the property a historic building with uneven floors, steps, and door thresholds?  Does the property have vulnerabilities that will require you to pay for extra security?  Will you have to install more advanced networking infrastructure to handle the telecommunication needs of your business?  These considerations can be part of your negotiations, either to lower your rent or secure the landlord’s commitment to address your needs (thereby lowering operating costs that you would have incurred elsewhere).

Finally, if a commercial space is too big for your current needs, consider asking the landlord to loosen or waive any restrictions on subletting.  The additional rent from a sublessor can be applied to a lease payment that might otherwise be too steep for you.

Consider the length of the lease

One of the first issues you should discuss with the property owner is the length of the lease. Generally, a small business that is just starting out should aim for a one – or two-year lease with an option to renew. This will prevent you from being tied down for too long in the early phases of your business, but it still gives you an option to stay in the same location if you choose. Shorter leases are also better if you think you can find a comparable location without too much trouble in the event this particular arrangement does not work out.

There are some businesses, however, that are extremely location-dependent, such as restaurants or bars.  In those cases, a longer lease term can offer more stability.

Consider the termination clause for your lease

Finally, make sure you carefully read what the lease says about terminating the agreement.  Note the provisions that set the number of days from the end of the lease (e.g. 30 days, 60 days, etc.) before which you must give notice of your intent either to vacate the property or to extend the lease.  Also note the due date for rent payments and negotiate any grace period that suits your cash flow.  You should ideally have a clause in place that gives you sufficient time to cure a default before the landlord can initiate eviction proceedings for delinquent rent.  You should also seek to negotiate penalties that the lease has in place for early termination if you decide to leave before the lease expires.

For more information about negotiating your business’s commercial lease, contact an experienced real estate attorney at BoltNagi PC in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

BoltNagi is a well-established and widely respected business and commercial law firm proudly serving clients in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

When a commercial property goes into foreclosure, the lender will do everything in its power to preserve the value of the property, as well as ensure that any rental income generated by the property is put toward maintaining the property and paying off the loan.

How does the lender ensure this? By seeking the appointment of a receiver immediately after a commercial loan goes into default. The receiver is a third-party individual or entity appointed by the court who is tasked with preserving the property that secures the loan when the lender can demonstrate that there is a risk of damage to the property or a loss of rental income from the property.

Here’s an overview of what you need to know about commercial receivership in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The elements of commercial receivership

Different courts have different tests for appointing receivers, but the common elements are a clause in the mortgage that provides for the appointment of a receiver upon the borrower’s default, and an actual default under the loan itself.  Other elements might include the solvency of the borrower, whether the value of the property is enough to satisfy the loan debt, whether waste has been committed on the property, and whether the property is in danger of being foreclosed by the government for payment of back taxes.

The procedure for appointing a commercial receiver

Usually, a lender will commence an action for the appointment of a receiver as part of its foreclosure action. The receiver will then be in charge of managing the property throughout the duration of the litigation.

Although an order appointing a receiver can be tailored according to the circumstances of the litigation, a receiver will have the following general responsibilities and powers:

  • Where the property is under construction, completing that construction in a commercially reasonable manner;
  • Where the property is occupied by tenants, managing existing leases, entering into new leases,  and collecting rental income;
  • Where the property is vacant or abandoned, securing the property to protect it from potential vandalism, or (where occupied) damage purposefully inflicted by tenants;
  • Arranging for any necessary repairs or maintenance to keep the property in reasonably good condition;
  • Obtaining insurance and paying any taxes associated with the property;
  • Managing any bank accounts associated with the property; and
  • Selling or otherwise disposing of the property, with the consent of the court and (depending on the circumstances of the litigation) the lender, borrower, and/or lienholders.

Throughout the receivership process, the receiver is responsible for honoring and upholding the contractual rights of the tenants in the commercial property, who likely are innocent third parties. Receivers must safeguard the welfare of all tenants and guests, and continue to manage ongoing operations and expenses, while making all commercially reasonable efforts to maximize profitability from the property.

Receivers are also responsible for generating and submitting periodic reports to court, the lender, and the borrower, including regular accountings of financial transactions associated with the property. These reports generally include detailed information about specific actions taken in managing the property, the amount of income received from the property, any amounts spent to maintain or improve the property, and other relevant information.

Receiverships can be terminated or set aside only by court order.  Circumstances that warrant the termination of a receivership include a change in circumstances surrounding the property, such as the sale or bankruptcy of the business; the reinstatement of the delinquent loan; or the settlement or completion of the underlying litigation.

For more information about commercial receivership in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the benefits of having a receiver manage a commercial property that has gone into default, contact an experienced real estate lawyer at BoltNagi PC.

A.J. Stone is Senior Attorney in the litigation practice group and concentrates his practice in the area of foreclosures at the law firm of BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued guidance on the exemption for small businesses which excludes them from the provisions of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act within the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The FFCRA applies to all employers with less than 500 employees, except for certain small businesses with fewer than 50 employees if complying with the FFCRA would jeopardize the viability of the small business as a going concern. The Dept. of Labor stated it would issue further guidance clarifying said exemption in April. The recently issued guidance states as follows:

An employer, including a religious or nonprofit organization, with fewer than 50 employees (small business) is exempt from providing (a) paid sick leave due to school or place of care closures or child care provider unavailability for COVID-19 related reasons and (b) expanded family and medical leave due to school or place of care closures or child care provider unavailability for COVID-19 related reasons when doing so would jeopardize the viability of the small business as a going concern. A small business may claim this exemption if an authorized officer of the business has determined that one of the three conditions below is present:

  • The provision of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity;
  • The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or
  • There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.
  • The Department encourages employers and employees to collaborate to reach the best solution for maintaining the business and ensuring employee safety.

If you are interested in reviewing your business’s ability to qualify for this FFCRA small business exemption, please contact Attorney Ravi Nagi at 340-774-2944 or rnagi@vilaw.com.

Ravinder S. Nagi is Assistant Managing Attorney and Chair of the Labor and Employment Practice Group at BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Pursuant to the Territories’ efforts to combat the potential spread and impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), on March 13, the Hon. Governor Bryan declared a State of Emergency Executive Order and authorized DLCA to issue a Price Freeze on all items and goods in the Territory, and subsequently issued a Supplemental Executive Order on March 23 Executive Order in which mass gatherings were prohibited, hotels and Air BnB’s and other non-essential businesses ceased operation, schools were closed and a stay at home order was put into effect, bars were closed and restaurants could only offer takeout and delivery. The March 23rd order also suspended enforcement of landlord-tenant actions for the recovery of real property, demands for rent, and forcible entry and detainer.

On March 30th, the Governor issued a Third Supplemental Executive Order stating that the State of Emergency in the territory will extend until May 12, 2020; the Stay-at-Home Order shall continue until April 30, 2020; School closures will continue until April 30, 2020; and clarifying certain portions of previous executive orders. Executive Order Additionally, the Governor suspended the enforcement of the VI Plant Closing Act, thus allowing for the closure of businesses or implementing mass layoffs of 25 or more without notice or severance payments to affected employees. This suspension continues for 120 days. The federal WARN Act may still apply to certain VI employers, but most likely the natural disaster and unforeseeable business circumstances exemptions created by COVID-19 will apply and allow employers to bypass the WARN Act.

If you have any further questions about the Executive Orders, the suspension of the VI Plant Closing Act, or possible applicability of the WARN Act, please contact me at rnagi@vilaw.com.

Ravinder S. Nagi is Assistant Managing Attorney and Chair of the Labor and Employment Practice Group at BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

On March 18, 2020 the U.S. federal government enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), in its efforts to address the deleterious effects the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on the economy and in particular employers and their employees. The FFCRA applies to all employers with less than 500 employees; however, there is an exemption for employers with less than 50 employees if the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability ”would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern”. Further guidance from the Dept. of Labor will be provided in April for employers electing this exemption. Generally the FFCRA provides for paid leave to the employees of covered employers via two provisions, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act as follows:
• Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
• Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
• Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
The FFCRA also requires the posting of the Department of Labor poster in all covered employer’s workspaces. Click on the following link for the poster-EMPLOYEE RIGHTS. If you have any further questions about how the FFCRA applies to your Virgin Islands business or would like to discuss qualifying for the 50-employee exemption, please contact me at rnagi@vilaw.com.

Ravinder S. Nagi is Assistant Managing Attorney and Chair of the Labor and Employment Practice Group at BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFRCA”) goes into effect in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the entire nation today, April 1st, to Dec. 31, 2020. The FFCRA provides for paid sick leave and paid FMLA leave for employees of covered employers that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For further details on the FFRCA provisions please see (insert link to first article).

The US Dept. of Labor issued a bulletin, FIELD ASSISTANCE BULLETIN NO. 2020-1 declaring a temporary non-enforcement period for the FFRCA from March 18 to April 17, 2020. This period of non-enforcement will allow covered employers to come into compliance with the FFRCA and enforcement actions will not be brought during this period if covered employers have acted reasonably and in good faith to comply with the law. Acting reasonably and in good faith requires the following facts:
1. The employer remedies any violations and makes all employees whole;
2. The violations of the Act were not “willful” based on the criteria set forth in McLaughlin v. Richland Shoe, 486 U.S. 128, 133 (1988) (the employer “either knew or showed reckless disregard for the matter of whether its conduct was prohibited…”); and
3. The Department receives a written commitment from the employer to comply with the Act in the future.
If the public or private employer either (i) violates the FFCRA willfully, (ii) fails to provide a written commitment for future compliance with the FFCRA, or (iii) fails to remedy the violation upon notification by Department, the employee seeking payment, or a representative of that employee, including by making all affected employees whole as soon as practicable, the Department reserves its right to exercise its enforcement authority. This stay will be lifted after April 17, 2020, and the Department of Labor will fully enforce violations of the FFCRA, as appropriate and consistent with the law.
If you have any further questions about the FFCRA and how it will apply to your Virgin Islands business, please contact me at rnagi@vilaw.com.

Ravinder S. Nagi is Assistant Managing Attorney and Chair of the Labor and Employment Practice Group at BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.