The coronavirus pandemic is changing everyday American life and business at an unprecedented pace. As usual, our great nation is coming together in a united effort to fight a formidable foe. We should be confident that we are up to this challenge and that Americans and American businesses of all sizes will be able to return to normal routines once this health emergency has been conquered.
For employers, there are many actions to be considered. For this article, we’ve compiled a list of the six most crucial action steps.
Six Ways Employers Can Lead through the Coronavirus Crisis
1. Be a Leader
Take the time necessary to give your employees assurances that you are carefully monitoring guidance from governmental authorities, will take actions in accordance with that guidance, have their best interests at the top of your priorities, and are confident that both our nation and your company will pull through.
2. Take Decisive Action
Make decisions quickly as conditions change and recommendations from authorities are issued. Be as transparent as possible regarding your actions as well as your personal perspectives.
3. Communicate and then Communicate More
Reach out to all your key customers and let them know you are concerned about their business and their employees. Find out how they are dealing with the situation and how it may impact your relationship in the short-term. If your relationship is strong, you will find ways to help each other out. Even if your customer’s message is grim, your ability to plan for your own business will be enhanced and your customer will know you cared enough to reach out.
4. Be Generous
When it comes to employees, remember that one size fits one. Make the best effort possible to treat each employee’s situation uniquely and do what is best for them under the circumstances. Now is the time to be flexible and generous considering their individual needs. With the impact on the elderly, school closures, and disruptions to work-life, your employees will be stretched and stressed in many ways over the next few days, weeks, and possibly months. Try to find solutions that fit each employee’s needs as best as possible.
5. Don’t Neglect Security
Security still matters. Even though the circumstances require decisiveness and may push us into uncharted territory, do not leave network and data security or network capacity behind. It is a certainty that cyber criminals are working overtime to exploit our distraction for their benefit. Therefore, be sure your company’s virtual private network, firewalls, and other security protocols are up to date with current software updates and can handle the possibility of many, if not all, of your employees working remotely. Finally, be sure your employees are adequately trained on working remotely in a secure manner.
6. Document Your Decisions
Legislation is moving through the Congress to provide economic relief for employers with fewer than 500 employees and whose labor force is disrupted by the coronavirus. Under the proposed legislation, reimbursements will be made through refundable tax credits on employer’s quarterly payroll tax returns. Eligibility as well as the amount of relief is dependent up on the facts and circumstances of the employee’s situation. We have summarized the proposed relief below, but the key action item for leaders is to create contemporaneous documentation of the reasons for granting leave to your employees to ensure your ability to correctly and promptly apply for the anticipated financial relief.
The legislation1 passed by the House of Representatives and being considered by the Senate provides the following potential financial relief to employers with less than 500 employees:
Paid Sick Leave
- Up to two weeks of paid sick leave for employees to self-quarantine or to seek a diagnosis or for preventative care for coronavirus to be paid at 100% of the employee’s regular pay (limited to $511/day)
- Up to two weeks of paid sick leave to care for a family member in a similar situation or to care for a child whose school is closed or if the normal child-care provider is unavailable due to coronavirus to be paid at 2/3rds of the employee’s regular rate of pay (limited to $200/day)
Emergency Expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act
- After their two weeks of paid sick leave, employees will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of protected leave at no less than 2/3rds of their usual pay for any of the following:
- To adhere to a requirement or recommendation to quarantine due to exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus;
- To care for an at-risk family member who is adhering to a requirement or recommendation to quarantine due to exposure to or symptoms of coronavirus; and
- To care for a child of an employee if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the child-care provider is unavailable, due to a coronavirus
- Eligible employees will receive no less than 2/3rds of their usual pay after they have received their two weeks of paid sick leave
We will provide additional updates as this legislation moves toward enactment.
We encourage you to reach out to HoganTaylor’s Tax, Human Capital, or Information Technology advisors with questions or concerns about how to deal with this current crisis.