As many businesses begin to officially reopen, it’s more clear than ever that COVID-19 has changed the reality of our workspace. The constant but piecemeal flow of new guidance related to COVID-19 has become a business challenge unto itself – maybe the most important one of our time, and as businesses work to reopen, it’s easy to feel like we simply don’t have enough information to do the best possible job.
In this post we’ll explore:
- Why it’s so easy for the best and most well-meaning business & HR leaders to feel overwhelmed right now
- The variety of areas in which COVID-19 has created new responsibilities for employers
- How businesses can connect with resources to ease this transition into the new normal
The Growing Challenge of Staying Up to Date on Compliance
The federal government’s official response to COVID-19 began just two months ago on March 18 with the passing of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), mandating the expansion of paid sick leave and FMLA leave.
Since then, a variety of government agencies, from the CDC and Department of Labor to OSHA and Homeland Security have published temporary policies, interim guidance, and regulatory FAQ sheets with an eye toward helping businesses and individual American employees weather this storm.
Unfortunately, the flood of guidance during a time where many organizations were maintaining skeletal operations teams has led to information overload across much of business. Everybody wants to comply with the new regulations and follow best practices to protect employees, defeat coronavirus, and restore the economy, but staying up to date on COVID-19 has become a major job unto itself.
Clarifying the Picture: What Businesses Need to Focus On
The current situation presents three specific needs businesses must address:
- Staying up to date on guidance as it is released
- Implementing guidance and best practices in a well-organized way
- Maintaining great documentation to ensure compliance and qualify for tax credits as applicable
If your business’ COVID-19 response and reopening strategy doesn’t have a comprehensive approach for those needs articulated, it’s a recipe for falling behind.
Staying up to Date on Guidance
An incredible variety of government agencies have published guidance or temporary policies to address the COVID-19 pandemic and economic reopening. It’s essential to know about the guidance currently on the books as well as each new piece of legislation or regulation as soon as it’s published.
This means monitoring the websites of relevant government agencies or signing up for alerts to get news about updates as soon as possible.
Knowing COVID-19 guidance and policy is only the first part of the battle. You also have to bring those instructions and expectations to life in your workplace and among the members of your team.
You need to have specific plans in place to address all sorts of best practice implementation needs, including:
- Reconfiguring your workspace
- Providing & training employees on PPE
- Smooth internal processes for transitioning employees on and off of leave
- Temporary hiring procedures for team members who may have expired I-9 documentation
Federal payroll tax credits will be key to most businesses fully recovering from the financial effects of COVID-19. Thankfully, the CARES Act provides that relief, but ensuring your business gets that credits it deserves requires a strong approach to documentation.
In order to get the relief you deserve for providing your employees with paid leave, you need to provide specific documentation, and some of those requirements are only now being clarified. That means proactive recordkeeping and attention to detail are more important than ever for HR and payroll professionals.
Providing Powerful External Support to Core Business Function
Given all the new responsibilities we’ve discussed related to COVID-19, it’s easy to see why many business, finance, compliance, and HR leaders are feeling overwhelmed. One way to take pressure off your core team while also ensuring compliance is to start a relationship with a dedicated HR support partner.
With an outside specialist taking the lead on reviewing evolving guidance and breaking it down into executive summaries and actionable policy/procedural checklists for your leadership team, you can carry out a powerful reopening that’s backed by best practices without that effort subtracting from your ability to do business.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed from a business perspective because of the steady but disconnected flow of new guidance from various government agencies, you’re not alone! Remember:
- Keeping up to date with COVID-19 policies and legislation has grown into a job unto itself and is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future
- It’s crucial that all businesses stay current on guidance, implement identified best practices in thoughtful ways, and maintain strong documentation in order to maximize tax credit opportunities
- A designated HR partner (like Launchways!) can pick up the slack on COVID-19 regulatory concerns, enabling your business to get back to doing what you do best
How to Learn More
At Launchways, we specialize in providing HR, payroll, business insurance, and employee benefit support to organizations so their leadership can make the most of their own time and expertise. We are proud to partner with some Chicago’s most innovative and forward-thinking businesses to strengthen the local business community and connect organizations with the knowledge, tools, and human support they need to do their jobs better than ever.
During this challenging time, we encourage all business leaders to access the resources on the Launchways COVID-19 Emergency Resource Center.