- On May 1, 2020
- business risk, COVID19, risk
118 million Americans, or more than 33% of the country’s population, live in states that have either eased restrictions on nonessential businesses or plan to soon. We know you want to get back out there, but you have to be careful about doing so.
Click here to see where your state stands.
In fact, to counterattack possible repercussions for opening early, many business lobbying groups are asking Congress to pass measures that would protect companies from coronavirus related lawsuits when businesses reopen. Businesses want to make sure that are not liable for policy decisions by government officials if employees or customers catch COVID-19 from businesses. One business group says the biggest push is to give companies enhanced protection against lawsuits by customers or employees who contract the virus and blame the business as the source.
The head of the US Chamber of Commerce agreed that businesses are worried about getting sued. Businesses also want protection from coronavirus related disruptions like wages and hours, leave, and travel litigations.
In Trump’s “Opening Up America Again” plan, the responsibility gets forced to the employer. The guideline tells employers to provide personal protective equipment like masks and gloves to staff. It also recommends testing employees for symptoms and tracing infections. All of this is a lot of work for any company. Considering that the U.S. is lacking testing, it doesn’t seem promising that companies will be able to consistently test their employees.
The U.S Chamber stated that the provisions would not cover companies guilty of gross negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct. However, it will protect against litigations against wage and hour issues, leave policy, travel restrictions, telework protocols, and workers’ compensation.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said business shouldn’t be held liable if customers or workers get the virus as states lift restrictions. Specifically, “small businesses that don’t have massive resources, should not be held liable”, he said. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, agreed that businesses need legislation “to shield businesses from pandemic-related legal liability if they reopen. If not, there could years of endless lawsuits arising from “a massive tangle of federal and state laws.
On the opposing side, several public health officials warn and predict that prematurely opening the economy will cause a second wave of cases and overwhelm the healthcare system. If that happens, it would set back the economy and American life…again.
So if you’re opening your business soon, follow these tips to help make an easy transition.
1. Clean..and clean again
It’s more important to maintain being “clean” than it is to do a big cleaning once a day. When a new customer comes in, wipe down what they touched (after they leave of course). It would be easier if masks and gloves were dispersed to employees.
2. Retrain employees
You’re going to have to retrain employees for doing business in a coronavirus world. Retrain them on how to approach customers and help them while being conscious of not spreading germs at the same time. Maybe you changed your business strategy or added new products to try to adapt to the shutdown. You’re going to have to retrain them so they can be successful. Be sure to read and follow the guidelines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Such as: keeping employees six feet away from co-workers or customers, taking temperatures, disinfecting surfaces, and providing face masks, hand sanitizers, and barriers when appropriate. The more safeguards your company applies, the better your argument will be if there is a lawsuit or challenge by OSHA.
3. Communicate with employees
Yes, the world revolves around money, but there’s no money if there are no customers or employees. On that first day, have a talk with them about how they are valued and safe at your business. Health should be a priority for you and your employees. Reassure them that there will be no consequences if they need to stay home because they are feeling unwell. This is better than the alternative of them working and spreading what they have. Your employees are what makes your business successful so express to your team your plan of action and gratitude.
Need Help With COVID-19 Related Business Interruption Coverage?
Even those states are opening, businesses still face an uphill battle. If you have suffered income losses directly related to COVID-19 and forced closure, you could have coverage. ALL policyholders should review their coverage and find out what their options are. Contact us to learn how our experts can help.