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Resources for employers affected by COVID-19
As a small business owner you’re faced with new challenges in running your business. You’ve been put in an uncomfortable position and may need to answer difficult questions– but having all of the information and resources available can help guide you through a level of uncertainty.
We’ve compiled a list of questions and resources that will be updated as new information becomes available including:
- Government Resources
- Helpful resources
- How to lead employees through challenging times
- How to approach difficult conversations during layoffs
Q: What Government Resources are available for my business?
Governments have been moving quickly to respond to the threat of COVID-19 on small business owners by providing economic relief to protect both employers and employees through the current economic turmoil. Below is a list of financial relief programs for Canada and the United States.
Federal government actions
Congress, the White House, and other federal agencies have been taking swift action to provide rapid financial relief to small businesses. Additional actions are likely in the coming days and weeks, Wave is closely monitoring and will provide updates as federal actions become final.
- On March 31st, The Treasury Department & Small Business Administration (SBA) announced further details on the Paycheck Protection Program. This loan is designed to provide an incentive for small businesses to keep their employees on the payroll. Read more on eligibility and how to apply.
- The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering up to $2 million in Economic Injury Disaster Loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Read more about eligibility and how to apply.
- These loans are 100% guaranteed without collateral or a personal guarantee, and if you use the loan for permitted purposes (at least 75% has to go towards payroll costs, interests on mortgages, rent and utilities), the balance will be forgiven.
- The Federal Reserve has announced that it will cut interest rates to 0% and take additional steps to stabilize the economy.
- The Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced waivers for interest and penalty for some payments read more here.
- President Trump signed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Learn more here.
- The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), enacted on March 27, 2020 includes
- Sick Leave Credit
- Employee Retention Credit
- Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes (specifically the employer portion of Social Security)
- The Treasury Secretary announced the April 15 tax-filing deadline has been extended to July 15, giving people more time to prepare and pay their taxes without interest or penalties during the coronavirus outbreak
State government actions
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has created and will continue to update a breakdown of each state’s response to COVID-19. Check out here for how it applies to your home state.
For more of the latest updates follow our Help Center article at COVID-19 Payroll updates
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's website provides news releases and updates coming from him on a day to day basis on different proposals to help businesses and individuals during this time. They are available here.
- The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide $5 billion in support to workers who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID-19 including those who are not eligible for EI. This program will be delivered through the CRA.
- Eligible individuals will be able to receive $2,000 a month for up to 4 months
- The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting in early April
- The Work Sharing Program provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process.
- The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy was proposed to provide eligible employers a wage subsidy for a period of three months to help prevent lay-offs.
- The subsidy amount for a given employee on eligible remuneration paid between March 15 and June 6, 2020 would be the greater of:
- 75 percent of the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week
- The amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75 percent of the employee’s pre-crisis weekly remuneration (whichever is lower).
- Employers will be able to apply for the subsidy once available through their CRA-My Business Account and begin receiving the subsidy within 6 weeks of application. Details on how to apply are said to be coming soon.
- Those organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 percent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
- For employers that are eligible for both the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the 10 per cent wage subsidy for a period, any benefit from the 10 per cent wage subsidy for remuneration paid in a specific period would generally reduce the amount available to be claimed under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy in that same period.
Wave Payroll user? Here’s how you can opt-in your company to the Wage Subsidy:*
*Note: This subsidy is reflecting the initial 10% subsidy announced by the Canadian Government.
- Ensure you are eligible for this program as per the criteria set out by the Canadian Government
- Sign in to Wave Payroll
Go to the payroll dashboard and click “Opt in, my business is eligible” for the Temporary Wage Subsidy program
Q: What other resources are out there?
Zapier, a fully remote business, has put together a Guide To Remote Work which can help ease the transition for you and your employees
Entrepreneur has created an extensive list of free tools and apps that you can take advantage of now
MaRs has built a useful hub of resources for People Practices and Ops during COVID-19
The Government of Canada has laid out their economic response plan and how employers and employees should be approaching this
CAMH has put together a number of FAQs regarding Mental Health and COVID-19
which can be shared to help your team through these tough times
The Small Business Association is a government resource showing which small businesses are eligible for a loan and how they would go about getting one
Forbes is continuing to update this resource of small business relief programs available to American small businesses
Q: How do I communicate and lead my team through challenging times?
During times of uncertainty, employees will be looking for your support more than ever before. We’ve compiled a few things to keep in mind as you navigate through conversations with your employees as it relates to COVID-19.
It’s important to have a continuous communication approach as this situation continues to evolve. It’s important to keep your employees updated on the latest relevant news, but you must be cognizant of sharing information that is fact-based and helpful.
Each of your employees is likely going through their own unique situations, therefore catering to their individual needs will be important. Start by having an open conversation with each of your team members to see how you can help them get acclimated to their new situation. Try as best you can to remain flexible in their new ways of working. If they need to alter their hours so they can balance their kids and work, it’s your job as a leader to accommodate them as best you can.
Be Optimistic and Realistic
It’s not always an easy task, but it’s important to keep your employee’s spirits up as much as you can in a time like this. While the news coming out of the world may not always be positive, you should strive to balance the negative news with the positive. Your job as a leader is to enable employees to continue as much as possible with their lives. Things will get better and you need to help people understand that.
Q: Are there any tips on how to navigate difficult decisions and conversations during layoffs?
With the impact of the coronavirus, you might be faced with difficult conversations with your employees, contractors, suppliers, and even with some of your most loyal and hard working staff. Laying off someone is never easy. Here are some tips you can use to be an empathetic human being in a really hard moment.
Try everything else first
Before resorting to layoffs, consider all of the other options that you have to tighten your belt and save money. Your employees will appreciate that you thoughtfully pursued other options. You can consider first eliminating part-time and temporary staff or try to reduce every employees' salary by 5%-20% depending on your situation. If you do a 20% reduction, perhaps they can work on a 4 day week schedule. Many teams would prefer 80% of their salaries to keep their jobs. As you consider alternatives, talk to your key employees. They may have ideas that even you didn’t think about.
Remember that while this is hard for you, it’s even harder for the person involved
Now is the time to be empathetic, calm and focused. Be decisive. Preparation will make layoffs less painful for all. Chances are that if your company is experiencing problems, your employees are aware and worrying anyway. So, make the decision and do the necessary layoffs as soon as possible.
Give them everything in writing
Hearing that you have lost a job is overwhelming at the best of times, and the employee will not likely retain any details. Provide everything to them in writing so that they can go home and review it all later. Include in the material:
- What notice or pay in lieu of notice, including severance pay will you provide?
- What will you cover with respect to benefits?
- How will you help with government reporting for Employment Insurance where applicable?
- Will you provide a job reference?
Be generous when possible. More generous than you are legally obligated.
When you determine the need for layoffs, do the best you can afford for your employees. On average, companies provide between 1 week and 1 month per year of service depending on various factors that make it easier or more difficult for the employee to replace their job with something similar.
If you know other companies that are hiring, or you have connections that may make it easier for the employee to find work, by all means offer them up. Any and all assistance will be greatly appreciated.
If any important questions were missed, you can tweet at us with recommendations of what you would like to be included and we’ll add them to the list.