COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients
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Your Business And Your Employees During the Coronavirus

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Business Attorney

The Coronavirus has affected every aspect of our lives, including our business and our employment. Every day the news reports about more and more business employees who have been laid off or terminated from their jobs and who are applying for unemployment benefits.

Many small businesses around the country have shut their doors and aren’t sure whether they will have the ability to reopen once the Coronavirus pandemic is over. Part of the reason for this is that no one knows for sure when the pandemic will end and when the economy and businesses will resume.

Really, in one sense, the Coronavirus has simply amplified the risks that all small businesses face all the time. There is no certainty that any business will succeed. Those who create a business do it with the dream and the desire to be successful. Then with the proper planning, hard work, and guidance, many businesses are successful.

At the Racine law office, we have advised and helped small business clients for more than 70 years. We help our clients create their small business entities whether that is a partnership, an LLC, or a regular corporation. We guide our business clients through the business process and help them with their legal needs, including, financing, employment and employees, contracts, and other business transactions. We have the skills and the experience necessary to guide our clients and help them reach the success they desire.

Before, and especially now during the Coronavirus, we provide guidance and counsel to our business clients to help protect their businesses and help keep them operating. The purpose of this article is to give you a list of some of the things you can do to help your business and your employees during the Coronavirus. This article is a good place to start but we also recommend that you contact us for a consultation where we can answer your specific questions and help you with your specific business operation.

Update Your Employee Handbook

The first thing that you could do to help your business and your employees during the Coronavirus pandemic is to update your employee handbook. It really doesn’t matter how many employees you have. If you have any employees at all, you should have an employee handbook.

The purpose of the employee handbook is to give you the ability to clearly communicate all the policies, procedures, expectations, purposes and goals of the business to your employees. A well written employee handbook can also protect you and your business from claims or lawsuits that could be brought by an employee for things such as discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and so forth.

Additionally, a comprehensive and complete employee handbook will guide your employees in understanding what is expected of them. The employees will also understand how you as the employer will deal with issues or problems that may come up. Finally, through an employee handbook, employees will have a resource to go to if they have questions or concerns about their compensation, benefits, and so forth.

We’ve found that many of our business clients have used the Coronavirus pandemic as motivation to update and/or create their own employee handbook. If you don’t have an employee handbook but you do have employees, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation where we can discuss the benefits of an employee handbook in more detail as it relates to your specific business operation.

Keep Up With Changes in Employment Law

Another effect the Coronavirus may have had on your business and your employees is temporary changes in federal or state employment laws. Both President Trump and the United States legislature have passed rules, laws, and regulations that affect existing employment laws. The US Department of Labor has created a website resource that lists and explains each of these changes and how they may affect your small business. The link to this webpage is: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic

The changes that have been made affect an employer’s requirement to pay employees even when they are on leave due to the Coronavirus. Additionally, the changes have affected how the Family and Medical Leave Act will be applied to both employers and employees.

If you have any employees, it’s important that you understand the changes that have been made and how they may apply to you and your small business. We encourage you to contact us so that we can answer your specific questions and help you understand the rights and protections that exist for your employees.

Seek Financial Help

In addition to updating your employee handbook and understanding the changes that may affect your employees under federal and state law, another thing that you should look into for the benefit of your small business are all the financial relief programs that are available because of the Coronavirus.

In a previous article I go into greater depth about these programs. I suggest that you read through that article completely. Additionally, in summary, there are several programs that have been created to help employers financially so they can keep their doors open and their employees employed. These include the Paycheck Protection Program. More details about this program can be found at the following SBA website link: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program-ppp

Additionally, the SBA also offers a debt relief program for any existing SBA loan that your small business already had when the Coronavirus pandemic began. Information about this program can be found at the following link: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

In addition to this, the state of Idaho also offers some programs for small businesses to help them if you elect to follow the state programs rather than the federal programs listed above. These are done under the Idaho Rebound Cash Grants for Small Businesses program. More information about this program can be found at the following link: https://rebound.idaho.gov/idaho-rebound-cash-grants-for-small-businesses/

We understand that you may be overwhelmed with the Coronavirus pandemic and the effects it is having on your business. We are ready to advise and counsel you in all the legal ways that you can protect your business and help it to continue to move forward. We invite you to contact us for a free 30-minute consultation so we can discuss your small business with you and answer your questions.

Enlist an Idaho Business Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho business lawyers can help you with any of your business structure or operation needs. Whether you are seeking to create a new business or review a current business, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho business problems.

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