Q: How do borrowers calculate the reduction in their loan forgiveness amount arising from reductions in employee salary or hourly wage?
A: Certain pay reductions during the Covered Period or the Alternative Payroll Covered Period may reduce the amount of loan forgiveness a borrower will receive. If the salary or hourly wage of a covered employee7 is reduced by more than 25% during the Covered Period or the Alternative Payroll Covered Period, the portion in excess of 25% reduces the eligible forgiveness amount unless the borrower satisfies the Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction Safe Harbor (as described in the Loan Forgiveness Application (SBA Form 3508 or lender equivalent)). The examples below assume that each employee is a “covered employee.”
Example 1: A borrower received its PPP loan before June 5, 2020 and elected to use an eight-week covered period. Its full-time salaried employee’s pay was reduced during the Covered Period from $52,000 per year to $36,400 per year on April 23, 2020 and not restored by December 31, 2020. The employee continued to work on a full-time basis with a full-time equivalency (FTE) of 1.0. The borrower should refer to the “Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction” section under the “Instructions for PPP Schedule A Worksheet” in the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Instructions. In Step 1, the borrower enters the figures in 1.a, 1.b, and 1.c, and because annual salary was reduced by more than 25%, the borrower proceeds to Step 2. Under Step 2, because the salary reduction was not remedied by December 31, 2020, the Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction Safe Harbor is not met, and the borrower is required to proceed to Step 3. Under Step 3.a., $39,000 (75% of $52,000) is the minimum salary that must be maintained to avoid a penalty. Salary was reduced to $36,400, and the excess reduction of $2,600 is entered in Step 3.b. Because this employee is salaried, in Step 3.e., the borrower would multiply the excess reduction of $2,600 by 8 (if it had instead selected a 24-week Covered Period, it would multiply by 24) and divide by 52 to arrive at a loan forgiveness reduction amount of $400. The borrower would enter on the PPP Schedule A Worksheet, Table 1, $400 as the salary/hourly wage reduction in the column above box 3 for that employee.
Example 2: A borrower received its PPP loan before June 5, 2020 and elected to use a 24-week Covered Period. An hourly employee’s hourly wage was reduced from $20 per hour to $15 per hour during the Covered Period. The employee worked 10 hours per week between January 1, 2020 and March 31, 2020. The borrower should refer to the “Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction” section under the “Instructions for PPP Schedule A Worksheet” in the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Instructions. Because the employee’s hourly wage was reduced by exactly 25% (from $20 per hour to $15 per hour), the wage reduction does not reduce the eligible forgiveness amount. The amount on line 1.c would be 0.75 or more, so the borrower would enter $0 in the Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction column for that employee on the PPP Schedule A Worksheet, Table 1.
If the same employee’s hourly wage had been reduced to $14 per hour, the reduction would be more than 25%, and the borrower would proceed to Step 2. If that reduction were not remedied as of December 31, 2020, the borrower would proceed to Step 3. This reduction in hourly wage in excess of 25% is $1 per hour. In Step 3, the borrower would multiply $1 per hour by 10 hours per week to determine the weekly salary reduction. The borrower would then multiply the weekly salary reduction by 24 (because the borrower is using a 24-week Covered Period). The borrower would enter $240 in the Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction column for that employee on the PPP Schedule A Worksheet, Table 1. If the borrower applies for forgiveness before the end of the 24-week Covered Period, it must account for the salary reduction (the excess reduction over 25%, or $240) for the full 24-week Covered Period.
Example 3: An employee earned a wage of $20 per hour between January 1, 2020 and March 31, 2020 and worked 40 hours per week. During the Covered Period, the employee’s wage was not changed, but his or her hours were reduced to 25 hours per week. In this case, the salary/hourly wage reduction for that employee is zero, because the hourly wage was unchanged. As a result, the borrower would enter $0 in the Salary/Hourly Wage Reduction column for that employee on the PPP Schedule A Worksheet, Table 1. The employee’s reduction in hours would be taken into account in the borrower’s calculation of its FTE during the Covered Period, which is calculated separately and may result in a reduction of the borrower’s loan forgiveness amount.
This Q&A was based on information contained in the Treasury Department’s October 13, 2020, version of “Paycheck Protection Program Loans, Frequently Asked Questions on PPP Loan Forgiveness,” which may be updated from time to time. This CARES Act / SBA / PPP Loan Forgiveness-related issuance may be found here: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP--Loan-Forgiveness-FAQs.pdf