As COVID-19 emerges as a global concern, the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce is monitoring the situation and we want to provide you with accurate information, useful tools, and resources that allow you to operate your business effectively.
With the impacts of COVID-19 on our local business community already in effect, in addition to good hand hygiene and common-sense precautions with your employees and patrons, The Chamber encourages all local businesses to consider the following:
- For your business: Prepare for negative economic impacts.
- Capital: Create, confirm, or expand your line of credit.
- Staffing: Develop staffing plans for varying levels of customers and revenue (what does an 80% scenario plan look like?).
- Insurance: Check with your insurance provider to understand your coverage and options.
- For your customers: Make your place of business as hygienic as possible and communicate what you are doing to customers so they feel comfortable visiting.
- For your employees: Check, modify, and communicate HR policies regarding remote working, sick-leave, and compensation during the health crisis. Try to ensure your policies are as flexible and non-punitive as possible. Sick employees should be encouraged to stay home.
- For your workflow: Cross-train employees for key functions so that daily schedules can continue relatively uninterrupted by potential employee absences. Where relevant, consider staggering start and end times to reduce large numbers of people coming together at the same time; and create and test remote employee collaboration systems (consider apps such as Slack and Zoom).
- For your cashflow: Communicate with your landlord (or tenants) and lenders about expectations and request flexibility (better to have that conversation now).
- For yourself: Eat well, sleep, and exercise. Taking care of yourself in this time of stress will improve your resistance to infection and resilience in managing difficult business situations. And of course, wash your hands all the dang time and don’t touch your face, or anyone else, for that matter.
- For your Chamber: For us to best serve you, we need to know and share what our members are doing to manage risks. To that end, please tell us what’s working and what you need from us!
Currently, our Chamber office will remain open. Some upcoming programs have been canceled or rescheduled. Please keep an eye on our website for updates on events, Chamber news, and resources to help your business weather this trying time. See past announcements.
Small Business & Non-Profit Loans
The Small Business Administration (SBA) will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Find more information on the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans at: SBA.gov/Disaster.
Learn more about the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
SBDC Economic Injury Loans
Tax Payment Postponement
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Tuesday, March 17th that taxpayers can delay paying their income taxes on as much as $1 million in taxes owed for up to 90 days. Corporate filers would get the same length of time to pay amounts due on up to $10 million in taxes owed. Read more here.
Emergency Remote Work
Harvard Business Review outlines 5 recommendations in the article, “What’s Your Company’s Emergency Remote-Work Plan?”:
- Acknowledge the possibility that all or part of your workforce may need to work remotely.
- Map out jobs and tasks that could be affected.
- Audit available IT hardware and software, and close any gaps in access and adoption.
- Set up a communications protocol in advance.
- Identify ways to measure performance that could inform broader change.
Other helpful resources:
Preparing Your Organization
Businesses, no matter their size, can significantly influence our community’s readiness, awareness, resources, and engagement against the spread of the coronavirus. This begins with organizational preparedness, including risk management teams and contingency plans.
Employers should prepare and socialize an Outbreak Response Plan and:
- Ensure the plan is flexible and involves employees in development and review.
- Conduct a focused discussion or exercise using the plan, to find out ahead of time whether the plan has gaps or problems that need to be corrected.
- Share the plan with employees and explain what human resources policies, workplace and leave flexibilities, and pay and benefits will be available.
- Share best practices with other businesses in the community.
Corporate Policy Recommendations
The United States Department of Health and Human Services, along with the CDC, recommends that companies:
- Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
- Speak with vendors that provide contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
- Do not require a health care provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as health care provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
- Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.
According to OSHA, the Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to influenza, pandemics, or other public health emergencies, and their effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Learn more here.
For more information, view the U.S. Chamber’s “Guidance for Employers to Plan and Respond to the Coronavirus (Covid-19)” PDF.
Ogletree Deakins also answered top FAQs on federal labor and employment laws.