During this period of uncertainty and rapidly evolving information, it is important for businesses, organizations, and employers to stay up to date. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers with links to resources.
Q: Should I close my business?
A: It depends. Be sure to check local mandates and guidelines. On March 16, 2020, Indiana’s governor issued an executive order requiring the closure of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants (except for delivery and carry-out) throughout Indiana. Indianapolis went a step further when its mayor closed gyms, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues.
Q: Should my business restrict travel?
A: Yes, your business should adhere to the CDC, WHO, and your state and city’s guidelines/mandates. For example, in Indianapolis, the mayor limited “non-essential travel.” While that is not clearly defined, businesses and employers should closely consider whether both intra and interstate travel is necessary at this time. Consider postponing in-person meetings or handling via telephone or Skype/Zoom.
Q: If my business closes or temporarily shuts down, who do I have to pay?
A: As of March 18, 2020, the President is set to sign the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (it has been passed by both the House and Senate). The law would go into effect 15 days after the President’s signature. The new law provides two weeks of paid sick and family leave to employees who are in quarantine, helping a family member with COVID-19, or who have children whose schools have closed. The bill provides that employees should get 100% of their normal salary.
The bill also provides 12 weeks of paid leave at 67% of the employee’s salary for eligible employees who are caring for children whose schools have closed.
There are many loopholes and eligibility requirements for employees. For example, the Department of Labor can exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees if it “would jeopardize the viability of the business.”
Please contact us with specific questions.
Q: What if I cannot afford to close or afford to keep paying my employees?
A: The United States Small Business Administration is planning to provide disaster assistance allowance for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus. Please see the link here for more information about applying. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides a tax credit to impacted employers.
Q: Is there insurance that may cover an unexpected closure of the business?
A: Check with your insurance carrier about whether you have business disruption insurance and whether it may provide coverage. There are many factors that are case-specific on whether this type of insurance could apply.
Government mandates and laws are constantly occurring and changing, so it is critical to consult updated resources. Indiana’s governor’s press releases can be found here. The CDC has issued and updated Guidance for Businesses and Employers which can be found here. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also issued guidance which can be found here. The entire Labor & Employment Practice Group at Lewis Wagner, LLP is here and available to discuss and answer any questions that may arise during this uncertain time. Please reach out to any of us via email using the links below.