The National Federation of Independent Business hosted a webinar on Friday to discuss the novel coronavirus and its impact on small businesses.
Reports of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in every state except West Virginia. Many communities have declared health emergencies, so employers must act now to determine how to maintain operations during this crisis and keep their workers safe.
The NFIB webinar featured advice from Elizabeth Milito, senior executive counsel for the NFIB Legal Center, and Holly Wade, director of NFIB’s Research Center. They encouraged businesses to follow handwashing guidelines and to have employees stay home if they don’t feel well. The NFIB also advised businesses to:
• Have ongoing communication with employees, customers, and suppliers/vendors about their plans.
• Check with suppliers, identify contracts implicated (force majeure event), determine key financial risks including a landlord, bank and vendors.
• Check insurance policies for coverage. Many insurance plans don’t cover pandemics or disease, but it’s worth a review of your policy or a quick call to your agent to be prepared.
• Create or review HR policies to make sure they fit any potential outbreak disruption including PTO time, sick leave, or telework opportunities. Consider “relaxing” or modifying policies depending on current CDC and public health recommendations.
• Assess your ability to support alternative work arrangements including telework, staggered shifts, and reduced hours.
• Evaluate your ability to access your facility during a major outbreak in your area. Consider alternative work facilities.