April 17, 2020
Five Things Every Employer Should Do in Response to COVID-19
by Catherine Burgett and Steve Tolbert, Frost Brown Todd LLC
Every business has now felt some impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses have been forced to close or drastically reduce hours, and the number of unemployment claims is higher than it has been in decades.
In response, local, state and federal authorities have issued a variety of new laws, executive orders and guidance aimed at both limiting the spread of COVID-19 and tampering its effects on businesses and workers. Out of these measures are several new obligations and considerations for employers. We’ve included our top five below:
1. Follow Ohio’s Stay-at-Home Order.
On March 22, Governor DeWine issued a stay-at-home order closing all non-essential businesses. That Order has been extended to May 1. Employers should review the Order, determine whether their business is essential or non-essential, and take all appropriate measures to close or cease operations as instructed.
2. Display Personal Hygiene Posters.
For those businesses still in operation, employers should take appropriate measures to prevent or mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. One easy way is by displaying CDC-recommended posters and employee notices. For additional guidance, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published its “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19,” which provides additional practical recommendations.
3. Determine if the FFCRA Applies to Your Business.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act went into effect nationwide on April 1. Among other things, the Act requires employee be paid sick and family leave for certain qualifying conditions related to COVID-19. The Act generally applies to any business with less than 500 employees and any public agency. Covered employers must also display the mandatory poster.
4. Evaluate the CARES Act.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also referred to as the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history, was signed into law on March 27. The Act provides small business loans, tax credits, expands unemployment benefits (including for self-employed workers) and includes myriad other provisions that may impact your business and employees. Familiarize yourself with the Act’s provisions and what benefits may be allocated to your business.
5. Be Flexible.
As the COVID-19 crisis progresses, businesses and employees will continue to be faced with tough choices and competing interests, such as balancing childcare and employment. Where possible, employers should be flexible and creative in their employment practices, such as allowing employees to work from home and providing alternative schedules. Those businesses that thoughtfully handle this crisis and treat their employees well can expect continued loyalty when the crisis finally abates.