- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging Congress to "keep going" with an aggressive response to mitigate the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on American businesses. "We need big, bold policy moves now to ensure businesses continue to function, meet payroll, and keep American workers employed," said Tom Donohue, CEO of the Chamber, in a press release.
- In a letter sent to President Trump, Nancy Pelosi, and Mitch McConnell, the Chamber advocated a three-part plan: cancellation of all employer-paid payroll taxes for March, April and May; legislation to expand and streamline small-business loans; and the creation of credit facilities to provide loans and loan guarantees to employers with more than 500 employees.
- The Chamber is also asking for additional measures that would support business operations and help employers assist employees and survive supply chain disruptions.
In addition to the advocacy efforts, the Chamber has also released a Coronavirus Response Toolkit that compiles the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for U.S. workers and businesses. The Toolkit includes key messaging for employers to share with workers, along with downloadable social media graphics.
There's no question that SARS-CoV-2 and the illness it causes, COVID-19, have upended the country. On March 18, President Trump signed an emergency bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, to expand family and medical leave as well as guarantee paid sick leave for certain U.S. workers. The bill takes effect on April 2, 2020 and is set to sunset on Dec. 31, 2020.
While the bill is designed to protect workers, there are concerns about its potential impact on small businesses that are now required to provide Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave and sick leave protections.
Experts advise employers to assess their current paid leave programs in the context of the bill's provisions and balance the costs of providing the leave, as mandated, with the costs of seeking an exemption. Remote work and other flexible work arrangements may help alleviate some of the burdens if employers are able to keep people working while keeping them out of the office.