Goldman Sachs predicts the economy will contract by an annual rate of 24% in the second quarter while JPMorgan Chase forecasts a 14% decline in output. Restaurants, movie theaters and sports arenas aren’t the only businesses laying off employees and cutting hours as the coronavirus crushes the U.S. economy.
So are law firms, marketing companies, insurance providers and countless other enterprises that may seem insulated from the more direct body blows of an outbreak that has triggered the shutdown of public gathering spots across the country.
The vast majority of those affected are small businesses that lack the cash or credit lines that can prop up airlines and other large corporations for many months before they have to slash jobs. Firms with fewer than 500 employees make up 47% of private-sector payrolls, according to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.
To be sure, restaurants, hotels, hair salons, stores and other consumer service providers are on the front lines of the economic meltdown as they lose the bulk of their sales, forcing them to abruptly lay off most or all employees. But those developments have reverberated across the economy in recent days, hammering the revenue of professional service businesses that sell to those restaurants and movie theaters, and creating a cloud of uncertainty that has chilled U.S. commerce broadly.
Communities continue to announce the temporary closure of businesses, schools and other public facilities or events. While these actions are necessary steps to help reduce exposures, it may bring financial uncertainty for many people who could experience a loss of income due to illness or workplace closures. If you are facing financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic, we have resources to protect and manage your finances.
- Protect yourself financially – As Americans prepare for the possible spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19, here are resources to protect yourself financially. Read in English, Leer en Español (Updated 3/16/2020)
- Consumer complaints – Since our inception, we’ve built a robust and technologically forward complaint process that handles approximately 30,000 complaints every month. Even in these challenging times, we are ready to send your complaints to companies to help you get the response you need. (Updated 3/17/2020)
- Protecting your credit during the coronavirus pandemic – Your credit reports and scores play an important role in your future financial opportunities. Learn how to manage and protect your credit during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. (Updated 3/19/2020)
- Dealing with debt: Tips to help ease the impact – We have resources you can use to address issues related to debt collection during the coronavirus pandemic. (Updated 3/20/2020)
- Tips for financial caregivers – We have resources for financial caregivers helping people who cannot manage their money or property themselves during the coronavirus pandemic.
- (Updated 3/20/2020)
All employers need to consider how best to mitigate the spread of the virus and lower the impact of COVID-19 in their workplace. They should identify and communicate their specific intentions, which could include protecting people who are at higher risk for adverse health complications, maintaining business continuity, and minimizing adverse effects on other departments or organizations in your supply chains.
When reviewing your organization’s policies and procedures, it is important to think through the second-order effects as well. For example, a ban on travel without a solid work-from-home policy can make the office crowded, leading to higher risk of transmission, and, if you conduct business from multiple geographical locations, consider what impact the closure of one office has on the productivity of another.
Some of the key considerations when making decisions on appropriate responses are:
Tips to Prepare:
- Have you written a business continuity plan? It’s not too late.
- Virus severity (i.e., number of people who are sick, hospitalization and death rates) in the community where the business is located
- Impact of virus on employees who are vulnerable and may be at higher risk for COVID-19 adverse health complications
- Employers with 500 or fewer employees are to grant FMLA leave due to COVID-19 and up to two weeks of paid sick leave for absences related to COVID-19, as part of the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act federal legislation
- Prepare for possible increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members, dismissals of early childhood programs and K-12 schools due to high levels of absenteeism or illness:
- Employers should plan to monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace. Implement plans to continue your essential business functions.
- Assess your essential functions and the reliance that others and the community have on your services or products. Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize customers, or temporarily suspend some of your operations if needed).
- Do you know the rules around giving notice of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace and the sharing of medical information? Here is need-to-know data privacy information for reference.
- Allow local leadership/management to have authority to take appropriate actions outlined in their business infectious disease response plan based on the condition in each locality.
- Coordination with state and local health officials is strongly encouraged for all businesses so timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each operational location
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has additional tips for preparing your workspaces for COVID-19 (OSHA Standards for COVID-19and Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19)