Eager to get back to normal, some states are reopening businesses across the country. But what does that mean for you?
Even as a surge in coronavirus cases in some U.S. states triggers another round of lockdowns, business owners are planning for the moment when they can finally reopen their businesses. Before they can, however, they have to have a plan, says Jenn Barnes, CEO of Optima Office, an outsource accounting and HR firm. Her team has recently been fielding calls from clients wondering what financial, legal and safety issues they need to consider, and whether a delayed or limited reopen of their businesses make sense.
Many of the calls are about their use of the CARES Act, and how to be sure they use their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in a way that result in forgivable repayments, Barnes says. “The rules keep changing, making it difficult for business owners to know what to do.”
With so much uncertainty, experts offered advice on what steps business owners should take before they reopen their doors.
Create a plan to keep people safe
Before you bring people back, rethink your office, workplace and operations with safety and social distancing in mind, then look for creative ways to address these needs, says Barnes. That may mean eliminating some workspaces, offering staggered schedules, moving desks into empty spaces or running alternating shifts. Companies should also have a plan for sanitizing shared spaces, ensuring masks are worn where needed, and tracking the temperature of employees. Business owners can refer to OSHA, the CDC and local public health authorities for guidance on how to create a safe environment.
“If employees get the virus because they came back to work, you could be on the hook for workers compensation claims,” Barnes warns. The best way to mitigate this risk is by being able to prove that you did everything you were supposed to do to keep people safe.