Small Business Shutdown/Slowed Down by Coronavirus

As Small Business Owners, we are facing unprecedented uncertainty. Conflicting information, inconsistent messages and a lack of clear directive just compounds the stress you likely already feel as a business owner. On top of that, the minute we feel we have some clarity, things change. Please know the Law Offices of Lindsey King are monitoring this situation and will provide updates relevant to the small business owner as they become available and are reviewed.

The following are links to the governments’ and World Health Organization’s most up to date information on how employers should handle the coronavirus. These provide resources for you to share with your workforce as well as those your business serves. 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/index.htm (Click on “Guidance for Employers”)

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/getting-workplace-ready-for-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=359a81e7_6

The CDC also provides this information for workplace sanitation: 

For specific help with policies, or communications for your business, we are here to help. Please utilize this link to find out how to contact us.

Also, there are emergent pieces of National Legislation that will likely pass into the law THIS WEEK (the week of March 16, 2020) that will create time off allowance and paid leave specifically for coronavirus related absences, that all small business owners must provide their employees. If, in addition to being a Small Business Owner, you are an employer- please read on. We will provide updates as they are available and reviewed.

The bill is called “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” (H.R. 6201). The bill has passed the House of Representatives and a version is expected to pass the Senate next. If passed into law, it may become effective 15 days thereafter, meaning likely the first few days of April 2020. 

The bill is likely to undergo changes before it passes, however-in its current version- it would require all small businesses of less than 500 people (with no minimum number of employees) to provide leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and paid sick or emergency leave for workers to address coronavirus related needs. Note, both provisions are written to apply to ALL small businesses- even those ordinarily exempt from the FMLA or State equivalent.

Specifically, the bill proposes:

  1. Up to 12 weeks of Family Leave for employees diagnosed with COVID-19 themselves, or who stay home under medically or governmentally imposed quarantines (including employees who decide to self-quarantine), and for employees staying home to care for children who meet any of the scenarios listed above, or who are unable to attend school due to the government imposed school closures.

-The leave-as currently drafted- is unpaid for the first 14 days, but if the employee has any paid leave they may use that first, and the employees also may be able to receive pay during this time under the sick/emergency leave provisions (below).

-After the first 14, days the balance of any leave taken for the above reasons, must be paid at an amount of at least 2/3 of the employee’s normal rate of pay or salary.

B. Up to 2 weeks of paid Emergency Sick Leave for employees absent for the same COVID-19 related reasons identified for Family Leave. 

-For absences related directly to having the virus, caring for a child with the virus or any COVID-19 quarantine, the employee is entitled to the full 2 weeks of pay

-80 hours for full-time workers;

-The typical number of hours worked in two-weeks for part-time workers.

-If the absence is to care for children home due to COVID-19 school or childcare closures, the payment is at 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate, for the same number of hours as described above.

While this may be a significant additional cost to the employer, particularly in the face of business losses they may incur, there will be tax credits given- potentially up to 100% for both types of leave provided. It is also important that while the bill has strong support, it is still likely to see changes in some or many of its provisions before it may be passed.

Return here for updates on this bill, including changes to its provisions and updates as to its passage and/or implementation. 

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS:

1) The information above does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult your attorney with specific questions.

2) As this situation is constantly changing, we will make every effort to stay current on this topic, however, this information is provided as general guidance and may not apply to your situation, nor should it be relied upon exclusively; Please consult and confirm with your attorney if you have questions about these updates or their applicability.3) In some jurisdictions, this communication/website might constitute legal advertising. The choice to hire an attorney who is right for your business should not be made based solely upon advertisements. If you would like to learn more about our firm, please click here to learn about our firm and how to contact us.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.