The Employer's Guide
to the Coronavirus


Video Replay: Employers & Coronavirus

Watch the video replay below for tips on how to protect your workplace and answers to other FAQs.

Hosted by our panel of HR Experts: Donna Jones, Senior HR Trainer & Consultant, Serena Puaokalani, Senior HR Consultant and Janina Abiles, Director of Client HR & Safety Training.

Video Timestamps

[0:57] Intro to the Coronavirus
[2:41] Symptoms
[5:57] Maintaining a Safe Work Environment
[16:47] Evaluate Potential Impacts on Your Business
[20:57] Preparing a Emergency Remote-Work Plan

[26:03] How To Respond to Certain Situations
[34:20] Responding to an Employee Who Tested Positive for the Coronavirus
[38:10] Addressing Fears in the Workplace
[41:10] Overview of the Employer’s Guide

Video Replay: Infection Prevention & Control

The objective of this webinar is to discuss the prevention of infections through proper use of personal protective equipment and other methods.

Hosted by: Arielle Faith Michael, Safety Training and Development Specialist 

Video Timestamps

[3:15] What is an infection?
[5:47] Cough Etiquette
[6:40] Social Distancing
[7:24] Hand Hygiene

[10:02] How to properly wear a mask
[11:00] When and how to use a protective gown
[11:35] How to minimize risk using gloves
[13:44] Additional Resources


What is the coronavirus?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. There is an ongoing investigation to determine more about this outbreak.

Here are links to key resources:

Preventing COVID-19 from spreading, CDC
Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers, CDC
Daily COVID-19 updates, State of Hawaii Department of Health

What are the symptoms for COVID-19?

Patients with COVID-19 have reported mild to severe respiratory illness, including the following symptoms:




Shortness of breath

Some patients may not report fever, especially the very young, elderly, immunosuppressed, and people taking certain fever-lowering medications. Employers would be wise to be particularly sensitive to requests from employees whose health is vulnerable, including employees with immunodeficiencies and those who are older or pregnant.

What is the latest impact of the coronavirus locally & abroad?

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Hawaii continues to rise. Click here to view the latest counts.

March 30: Governor David Ige signed a new emergency proclamation making it mandatory for all inter-island travelers to self-quarantine at home or in their hotels for 14-days. The expanded quarantine orders are in effect from April 1 – April 30. Those identified as essential workers and flight crews are exempt from the quarantine. Click here to watch the announcement.

March 27: Today, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

Click here to view live updates.

The largest peace-time stimulus package, the CARES Act will offer significantly enhanced benefits to employers and employees. We strongly urge you to consider these financial benefits into your immediate decision-making. While we are interpreting the just-released details and will provide you specific guidance as soon as we can, a few key benefits for you to know include:

  • Employers: larger SBA and financial distress loans with much better terms. For example, certain operating expenses such as payroll which you use the loan to pay for will be “forgiven,” meaning you will not need to pay that portion of the loan back to the government. This will enable you to retain your employees, keep them productive, and earning wages and benefits
  • Employees: for those employees who must be terminated, there will be enhanced Unemployment benefits. However, because termination is a serious decision, and COULD disqualify the terminated employee from receiving benefits from other government programs, if at all possible, we recommend you await final CARES Act details to make your decision.

Our team is studying and interpreting the just-passed law. We will provide concise information, with recommendations on how this can impact your decisions, as soon as possible.

March 23: Governor David Ige announced a statewide “Stay At Home” emergency order for all Hawaii residents. Like the orders issued by Mayor Caldwell and Mayor Victorino yesterday, the order is to stop all activities except those deemed essential. This statewide order will go into effect from Wednesday, March 25 until April 30. Click here to watch Governor Ige’s emergency order.

Click here to view a full list of essential workers’ ordered to show up to work, or read the entire proclamation here for more details.

March 20: Hawaii’s small businesses are now eligible for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance Program. Click here for additional information about the SBA’s disaster loans.

What are "Stay At Home" orders?

Governor David Ige announced a statewide “Stay At Home” emergency order for all Hawaii residents that goes into effect from March 25 – April 30. Stay-at-home requires people to stay inside and only go out for necessary activities, which can include going to some essential jobs, shopping for groceries, attending doctor’s appointments, and getting medical or other supplies that may help people work from home.

As more states and regions across the country begin to enforce stay-at-home (or shelter-in-place) orders in response to the coronavirus health crisis, it’s a good opportunity to understand what it means and how it could affect your business and employees.

Here’s a helpful cheatsheet:


What can I do to protect my workplace?

The best way to prevent sickness is to avoid being exposed. Here are some practical steps you can take:

1. Separate sick employees

Employees who report having a fever or an acute respiratory illness upon arrival to work or who become sick during the work day should be separated from others and immediately sent home. They should be fever free (100.4° F or below) for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing or symptom-altering medicines before returning to work. Consider the following:

  • Communicate your policies to all managers and employees with the expectation that sick employees stay home.
  • If possible, designate a separate area at your work site where sick employees can temporarily isolate. Use this space for those who become ill during the work day and are awaiting transportation to their home or to medical care.
  • Do not wait for employees to provide a healthcare provider’s note to validate illness or to return to work if they are sick with acute respiratory illness. Many medical offices and facilities may be extremely busy and may not be able to accommodate within a timely manner.
2. Implement infection control

Before, during, and after an outbreak, create a culture of wellness.

  • Place posters that encourage staying home when sick, cough and sneeze etiquette, and hand hygiene at the entrances to your workplace, in restrooms, and in high visibility locations.
  • Ask employees to stay home when sick and ensure that sick leave policies are in place.
  • Instruct employees to clean hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60-95% alcohol based) or by washing for at least 20 seconds (two rounds of the “Happy Birthday” song).
  • Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles.
  • Routinely clean and sanitize hands after visiting high-traffic areas like conference rooms or break rooms but also doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks etc.
3. Anticipate absenteeism

Prepare for employee absences resulting from personal illness, caring for ill family members, and dismissal of early childhood programs and K-12 schools. Be ready to adapt your business practices to maintain critical operations.
You might consider:

  • Cross-training employees to carry out essential functions so the workplace can operate when essential staff are out.
  • Identifying alternative suppliers to meet supply chain needs.
  • Prioritizing customers with the greatest needs.
  • Preparing to temporarily suspend operations if necessary.
4. Prepare for social distancing

Social distancing is an intervention to increase the physical distance between people and reduce the spread of disease. Consider what policies and procedures your business can implement to accomplish work remotely in case of an emergency.

  • Allow telecommuting where possible.
  • Permit flexible work hours (e.g. staggered shifts).
  • Ensure that you have the technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple employees working from home.
  • Try and test telecommuting and flexible hours now.. Identify and remedy problems that arise so you know how to drive all critical business functions and serve your customers with at least some of your people working remotely
5. Encourage direct deposit

If some employees still receive live checks, advise them to switch to direct deposit. Should the coronavirus reach crisis levels, postal systems or banks may choose to adjust their operations. Switching to direct deposit ensures that employees receive a paycheck without hiccups.

How do I create a business continuity plan?

If you haven’t yet had a chance to prepare and test-run your business continuity plan or emergency remote-work plan, we strongly encourage you to do so now. This plan can be used whenever severe disruptions to the workplace occur, whether it’s from the coronavirus or an outbreak of the common cold or flu.

At this time, the goal should be to prevent, or decrease, the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and lower the impact of COVID-19 onto your business operations. Now is the time for proactive, creative thinking to safeguard your employees’ health and your business. Here’s practical steps you can take to be prepared for any emergency.
1. Outline key business functions

Determine what people and resources are required for your business to operate. Take a look at existing employee roles and responsibilities. Identify the following:

  • What has to get done on-site and in-person
  • What can be done, even partially, through remote work.

For work that requires physical presence (e.g. restaurant work), start thinking through your contingency plan. This may include engaging a temp agency to quickly find healthy contractors to do the work. Or, this could include implementing on-call staffing policies to manage short staffing.

For work that can be handled outside the workplace, consider reevaluating your remote-work policies. Encourage managers to challenge default assumptions about the flexibility of certain roles as they think through their options.

2. Assess your exposure to risk

Identify health risks your employees may face. In the course of their duties, are employees likely to a) Have face-to-face contact with large numbers of people? b) Spend time in work sites, like health care settings, where they may come into contact with ill people? c) Handle materials that could be contaminated, like laboratory samples or healthcare waste?

Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published its Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, outlining steps employers can take to help protect their workforce. OSHA has divided workplaces and work operations into four risk zones, according to the likelihood of employees’ occupational exposure during a pandemic. These risk zones are useful in determining appropriate work practices and precautions.

    • Very High Exposure Risk: Healthcare employees performing aerosol-generating procedures on known or suspected pandemic patients; Healthcare or laboratory personnel collecting or handling specimens from known or suspected pandemic patients.
    • High Exposure Risk: Healthcare delivery and support staff exposed to known or suspected pandemic patients; Medical transport of known or suspected pandemic patients in enclosed vehicles.; Performing autopsies on known or suspected pandemic patients.
    • Medium Exposure Risk: Employees with high-frequency contact with the general population (such as schools, high population density work environments, and some high-volume retail).
    • Lower Exposure Risk (Caution): Employees who have minimal occupational contact with the general public and other coworkers (such as office employees)

Visit the OSHA website for guidance on controlling exposures among workers at risk.

3. Develop an emergency remote-work plan
Developing and testing emergency social distancing policies like remote-work, before you need to put them to action is critical. At ProService, we’re doing the same. This week all our employees participated in remote-work exercises to iron out our team processes, communication, and connectivity. This ensures we will have our own ways of both supporting 100% of our clients’ needs and keeping our employees healthy. If an all-remote or majority-remote workforce is not practical for your business, ideas to discuss among your management and operations teams are:
  • Splitting or staggering shifts to lessen the amount of people in the workplace at one time
  • Cross-training employees to perform critical functions so that your business is able to operate even if key employees are absent.
  • Identifying truly critical functions your business needs to run.
  • Temporarily weeding out the not-so-critical functions so you are able to staff your office and/or remote workforce appropriately without increasing the risk of the spread of COVID-19.
4. Test your plan & get input from your team
Your plan is more likely to be successful if you get buy-in from employees and partners. Invite your employees to help develop and review the plan. If it’s not possible to talk with every team member, try sampling a variety of departments in your organization.

Consider testing out your plan to help detect gaps or problems that need attention, and sharing your completed plan with employees. Explain what benefits are available to them, including paid time off, flexible scheduling,and health care coverage.
5. Leverage technology where possible
One of the great ways to stay connected if you pursue remote work is to use technology. Things like setting up employees with video conferencing (e.g. Zoom), leveraging document sharing tools like Google Docs, or loaning out laptops or other devices to employees that don’t have access to a personal device to do work.

Work with your managers or IT department (if you have) to audit your options, identify any technology gaps, create a contingency plan, and how you’ll provide any training to increase employees’ comfort levels and adoption.

Not sure where to get started? G-Suite is now available at no additional cost to all customers until July 1, 2020. See how Google is helping businesses and schools stay connected in response to the coronavirus.

6. Establish a communications protocol
Last but not least, communicate with your employees. Set-up a protocol on how to reach everyone (G-chat, text, phone call etc.) to handle staffing and work loads. If you’ve updated your remote-work plans, share it widely with all your employees and be available to answer questions as they arise. Consider organizing a company huddle to address concerns and align everyone on the plan moving forward.

How can my restaurant boost sales despite the social distancing measures?

People still need to eat. Actively market your take-out and home-delivery menus. Here are some things to consider as social distancing measures become more widespread.

  • Offer take-out, curbside pickup, and home-delivery. Post your menu on the front door and social media.
  • Email your customers about your new offerings.
  • Consider offering a meal prep service that includes ingredients for a weeks worth of home cooked meals for a family
  • Offer gift cards for your patrons to purchase now for later use
  • Sign up for home-delivery services such as: DoorDash, UberEats, Bitesquad, GrubHub
  • Get on takeout and delivery listings like Hawaii Grinds @ Home

How do I ensure I have sufficient cash to sustain my business when sales have dropped?

Here’s what our banking partners at American Savings Bank say:

  • Identify your immediate cash needs and demands
  • Calculate the cash you need to cover your business’s core operations for at least the next 45 days
  • Run and update each week a cash flow forecast to monitor your short-term cash position carefully

If you do not have sufficient cash in the bank to cover these 45-day expenses, consider the following actions:

  • Collect on accounts receivables—now is not the time to let others hold onto the cash that is rightfully yours
  • Draw on your existing line of credit (if you already have one) to establish at least a 45-days worth of cash reserves. Consult your banker to determine if it makes sense to hold an even larger buffer.
  • Apply for a Small Business Administration Coronavirus Disaster Loan

CARES Act: $2 trillion in aid to employers and employees

What financial aid is available to help you sustain my business?

The programs and initiatives in the just passed $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs you have right now. When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers.

Click here to learn more about the CARES Act and SBA Loans.

One of the CARES Act’s primary benefits to small business owners is the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) SBA loan. The PPP SBA loan program funded by CARES would provide your business cash-flow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans in order to retain your employees and maintain your payroll during this emergency.

PPP has a host of attractive features, such as forgiveness of up to 8 weeks of payroll based on employee retention and salary levels, no SBA fees and at least six months of deferral with maximum deferrals of up to a year. Small businesses and other eligible entities will be able to apply if you were harmed by COVID-19 between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. This program is retroactive to February 15, 2020, in order to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls. Loans are available through June 30, 2020.

Does my business qualify?

The following requirements apply to qualify for the PPP SBA loan under CARES:

  • Businesses and entities must have been in operation on February 15, 2020
  • The business or entity must have been harmed by COVID-19 between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020
  • Small business concerns, as well as any business concern, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, a 501(c)(19) veterans organization, or
  • Tribal business concern described in section 31(b)(2)(C) that has fewer than 500 employees or fewer employees than established by the relevant industry code
  • Any business concern that employs 500 employees or less per physical location of the business concern
    Individuals who operate a sole proprietorship, or as an independent contractor and eligible self-employed individuals
Watch the Webinar

[3:26] Overview of CARES

[6:32] Overview of Unemployment

[7:50] Unemployment Scenario

[11:32] Overview of FFCRA

[22:32] FFCRA Scenario

[23:47] Overview of RIF

[27:01] RIF Scenario

[32:05] EID Loan Overview

[33:55] PPP Loan Overview

[42:00] EIDL/PPP Loan Scenario

[43:24] Stay at home vs. Quarantine

[44:16] Stay at home vs. Quarantine Scenario

[47:54] Complex Loan Scenario 1

[50:33] Complex Loan Scenario 2

Watch the Webinar

[5:40] CARES Basics

[19:00] ASB Expedited Process

[25:50] Advice from SBA

[39:50] Tax relief from CARES

What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The FFCRA goes into effect on Thursday, April 1, 2020.

About the new law:

The Act provides for free COVID-19 testing and paid sick, family and medical leave for employees impacted by COVID-19 at companies with less than 500 employees. The Act also provides for additional funding for unemployment benefits and Medicaid and food security programs.

Employer requirements:

The US Department of Labor published its FFCRA notice informing employees of their rights to emergency paid sick leave. Beginning March 26, employers must post this FFCRA poster in a conspicuous place at work. With many businesses and residents under “Stay at Home” orders, an employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website.

Employee benefit:

Under this new law, employees of companies with less than 500 employees are entitled to:

  • Sick Leave: 80 hours of sick leave, regardless of whether or not the employee has accrued sick leave.
  • Child Care Leave: 12 weeks of job-protected leave, a combination of paid and unpaid leave.

To request leave on the basis of the FFCRA, an employee should complete and submit a request form with their supervisor supervisor/HR manager as soon as possible. Here is a sample FFCRA Employee Request Form we have created for our clients and employees.


If you’re a ProService client, please have your employees fill out the FFCRA Employee Request Form and email it to your ProService contact.

Watch the Webinar

FFCRA Webinar FAQs (ProService Hawaii)


[6:03] COVID-19 Testing

[7:35] Childcare Leave & Sick Leave

[10:32] Who is eligible for sick leave

[13:19] Paid Sick Leave

[24:18] Childcare Leave

[29:05] Payment

[36:50] Returning to Work

[38:40] Posters

Which COVID-19 relief program is right for my business?

There are several relief programs now available to small businesses and their employees. You may have heard of them: CARES Act, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), to name a few. Trying to identify which one is most applicable and beneficial for your situation can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve summed it up for you in this guide.

Are there any SBA loans available to Hawaii businesses?

With the CARES Act signed into law on March 27, employers now have two SBA Loan options:

Read our latest guide on how the CARES Act and SBA loans can help employers cover payroll and other operating expenses

What is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?

The Paycheck Protection Program provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Here are key points:

  • Funds are fully forgiven: Funds are provided in the form of loans that will be fully forgiven when used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.
  • But, you must keep employees on payroll (or rehire quickly): Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
  • All small businesses are eligible: Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees—including nonprofits, veterans organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors—are eligible. Businesses with more than 500 employees are eligible in certain industries.
  • Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply.
  • To apply, download the PPP Application and apply through any existing SBA lender or FDIC institution. Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020.

How do I apply for the Paycheck Protection Program?

Very Important: Applications are being accepted starting Friday, April 3. The demand for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans is extremely high and there is a funding cap; we urge you to put in your application as soon as possible if interested.

To apply, download the PPP Application and apply through any existing SBA lender or FDIC institution. Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020.

For more info, read the PPP Overview, and Borrower Information Fact Sheet to see if you qualify.

Expedited Application Process for ProService Hawaii Clients:

Please refer to the email communication we sent to you or click here for more detailed steps on how to apply. Here are the basic steps.

  1. Use the government’s just-revised (as of 4/3) PPP application form. Fill out and re-submit this form IF it is different than the form you used previously. Speed is critical. Government and bank policy will continue to evolve. The date of your initial submission is the one thing you can control. Place yourself at the head of the line.
  2. Use the Loan Amount & 941 Equivalent Form we provided to you. The amount submitted on the form is an ESTIMATE. This was an intentional decision by the Treasury/SBA to speed processing. Loan forgiveness will be calculated based on actual payroll information processed during the 8-weeks following the funding of your loan. The details of the forgiveness process have not yet been released.
    • Some of you have been asking about SUTA and 401K matches, which are not included in the numbers we provided. On average they account for 2-4% of the numbers provided. Given these are estimates, and that speed is the MOST important point, we would strongly encourage you to submit the form as is.
    • Some of you have been asking about employee counts. There is no specific guidance in the instructions from the Treasury/SBA on how to calculate this number. What we provided to you is the average number of paid employees in our system. You may adjust this to reflect as you see necessary to include owners or others that are not accounted for in our system.
  3. Consider using ProService’s expedited loan approval process developed in collaboration with American Savings Bank and Central Pacific Bank to support Hawaii businesses. Thanks to this, we will be able to accelerate loan processing and distribution of funds for our clients, whether you currently bank with them or not.

What are SBA Disaster Loans?

On March 20, 2020 The Small Business Administration (SBA) approved an economic disaster declaration for the state of Hawaii due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With this disaster declaration, Hawaii businesses affected by the outbreak can now apply for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).

These low-interest loans (3.75% for businesses, 2.75% for not-for-profits) of up to $2 million are intended to help cover normal operating expenses (payroll, inventory, fixed debt, etc) that you would otherwise have been able to pay were it not for the coronavirus. Your loan amount will be based on your actual economic injury and financial needs. It is not tied to property damage. The loan repayment term is determined by your ability to repay the loan.

How to Apply for an SBA EIDL Loan

Step 1 – Visit the SBA’s online application website. Please note that due to the large number of requests, you may experience delays on the site.

There are 3 SBA forms that will be required (SBA Form 5, SBA Form 413, and SBA Form 2202) in addition to other information listed below. These forms are provided electronically/online as part of the SBA online application.

  • Loan application (SBA Form 5), completed and signed (this is electronic/online in the portal)
  • Tax Information Authorization (IRS Form 4506-T), completed and signed by each applicant, each principal owning 20 percent or more of the applicant business, each general partner or managing member; and, for any owner who has more than 50 percent ownership in an affiliate business. Affiliates include, but are not limited to, business parents, subsidiaries, and/or other businesses with common ownership or management.
  • Complete copies, including all schedules, of the most recently filed Federal income tax returns for the applicant business; an explanation if not available.
  • Personal Financial Statement (SBA Form 413) completed, signed, and dated by the applicant, each principal owning 20 percent or more of the applicant business, and each general partner or managing member.
  • Schedule of Liabilities listing all fixed debts (SBA Form 2202 may be used)

Step 2 – Once you have submitted your documents, the SBA will review your materials and estimate your total loss. A loan officer will determine your eligibility and possibly request additional information or documentation. The goal is to arrive at a decision within 2-3 weeks of your application submission.

Step 3 – Loan Closing and funds disbursed – Your loan closing documents will be provided for your signature. Once signed documents are received the initial disbursement of a maximum of $25,000 will be disbursed. Subsequent disbursements will be scheduled until you receive the full loan amount.

If you need more information, you can:

If you are ready to apply for an SBA disaster loan, click here to submit your application online.

What else should I keep in mind?

An unfortunate side-effect of the current COVID-19 scare is the increase of scammers who are using COVID-19 fears to develop new ways to obtain personal and financial information. We encourage everyone to continue being vigilant and never trust information or accept requests for such information from an unknown or suspicious source and also double-check the source of emails that appear to be coming from internal company email addresses, business partners or public institutions that is asking for personal information or for you to click on an embedded link.

Some scams include:

  • Falsely advertising and selling inefficient or fake masks, preventative treatments, cures, etc.
  • Sending phishing emails, texts and social media posts
  • Requesting donations to help fictitious organizations and fake virus-relief efforts for victims
  • Promising critical or “secret” information about COVID-19 cases in the community in exchange for personal/financial information.
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What about employees & travel?

An employee has returned to work after traveling. What can I do?

You have several options that you can consider.

  • Advise employees to take certain steps after traveling: Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms and encourage them to tell their manager immediately if they start to have symptoms. Promptly call a healthcare provider for assistance if needed.
  • Require the employee to work from home: You can require the employee to work from home for the duration of the incubation period (1-14 days) IF you have a reasonable objective belief (not based on unfounded fears/suspicion) that an employee may have been exposed to COVID-19 and is a danger to the workplace.
  • Allow the employee to use their sick time for quarantine, regardless if it is imposed by the government, the employer, or reasonably self-imposed by the employee. For an employee who is at-risk of carrying COVID-19, this is a best practice. Once the employee’s sick leave is exhausted, if the employee is able to perform work at home (i.e., work remotely), you must pay an hourly (non-exempt) employee for all hours worked at home. For salaried (exempt) employees, if the employee works remotely for even partial days or hours, you must pay that employee for the full day or week as applicable. You have several options that you can consider.

There are several factors you should consider before making this decision. These include:

  • The duration of the employee’s trip and the amount of time the employee has returned from his/her trip
  • Specific cities/areas visited (should be rationally tied to places with a known outbreak of COVID-19 and not just “Asia”)

If you require your employee to work from home for the duration of the incubation, be open and flexible and avoid an “all or nothing approach.” Remember, this work from home option is temporary on an as-needed basis with no expectation of ongoing continuance following the incubation period. Engage with your employee and set clear expectations as to what parts of the employee’s responsibilities can be performed at home, even partially.

If your employee’s position does not allow him/her to work from home and carry out any essential functions of the job, if that employee is in a non-exempt position you do not have to pay your employee to remain at home for the duration of the incubation period. If, however, your employee is in an exempt position and is able to perform some parts of his or her job for all or part of the workweek at home, you must pay that employee for the entire workweek.

Note: If you implement this policy, you must be careful that the policy is applied fairly and equally to all employees. If not, you risk potentially violating the Civil Rights Act (e.g., requiring only Chinese nationals to work from home) or the American Disabilities Act. For example, treating an employee as having COVID-19 when they do not have the virus may give that employee cause to file a claim against you because you regarded them as having a disability and unlawfully discriminated against them.

An employee has travel plans. What can I do?

For business travel
Employers should consider limiting business travel to affected areas at this time and provide reasonable accommodations such as video conferencing during the duration of the threat and heightened risk.

You should also monitor travel alerts from the U.S. State Department to seek objective guidance about the health risks posed by travel to specific areas.
For personal travel
You can’t force an employee to cancel their personal travel, but you can encourage them to visit the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Site to get the latest guidance and recommendations for those who intend on traveling.

Upon their return, advise employees to check themselves for symptoms and tell their manager immediately if they start to have symptoms. Promptly call a healthcare provider for assistance if needed.

What if my employee has tested positive?

Updated 3/30/20: You should send home all employees who worked closely with that employee for a 14-day period of time to ensure the infection does not spread. Before the employee departs, ask them to identify all individuals who worked in close proximity (three to six feet) with them in the previous 14 days to ensure you have a full list of those who should be sent home. When sending the employees home, do not identify by name the infected employee or you could risk a violation of confidentiality laws. If you work in a shared office building or area, you should inform building management so they can take whatever precautions they deem necessary. The CDC also provides the following recommendations for most non-healthcare businesses that have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases:
  • It is recommended to close off areas used by the ill persons and wait as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area. If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
  • Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas (e.g., offices, bathrooms, and common areas) used by the ill persons, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.
  • To clean and disinfect:
    • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection (Note: “cleaning” will remove some germs, but “disinfection” is also necessary).
    • For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
    • Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
    • Cleaning staff should wear disposable gloves and gowns for all tasks in the cleaning process, including handling trash.
    • Gloves and gowns should be compatible with the disinfectant products being used.
    • Additional PPE might be required based on the cleaning/disinfectant products being used and whether there is a risk of splash. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding other protective measures recommended on the product labeling.
    • Gloves and gowns should be removed carefully to avoid contamination of the wearer and the surrounding area. Be sure to clean hands after removing gloves.
    • Employers should develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff on site prior to providing cleaning tasks. Training should include when to use PPE, what PPE is necessary, how to properly don (put on), use, and doff (take off) PPE, and how to properly dispose of PPE.
    • If you require gloves or masks or other PPE, prepare a simple half-page Job Safety Analysis (JSA): list the hazards and the PPE (gloves, masks, etc., as needed), and the person who drafts the JSA should sign and date it.
If employers are using cleaners other than household cleaners with more frequency than an employee would use at home, employers must also ensure workers are trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace and maintain a written program in accordance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard. Simply download the manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and share with employees as needed, and make sure the cleaners used are on your list of workplace chemicals used as part of the Hazard Communication Program.

What if one of my employees has a suspected but unconfirmed case of COVID-19?

Take the same precautions as noted above, as if the employee tested positive for COVID-19. Treat the situation as if the suspected case is a confirmed case for purposes of sending home potentially infected employees. Communicate with your affected workers to let them know that the employee has not tested positive for the virus but has been exhibiting symptoms that lead you to believe a positive diagnosis is possible.

What if my employee has come into contact with someone who tested positive?

Take the same steps as advised above except communicate to your employees that the employee is not showing any signs of the virus and you are acting out of an abundance of caution.

Do I have a responsibility to inform the CDC?

There is no obligation to report a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 to the CDC. The healthcare provider that receives the confirmation of a positive test result is a mandatory reporter who will handle that responsibility.

Can I take an employee's temperature at work to determine whether they might be infected?

Yes. While taking an employee’s temperature is a medical examination under the ADA, given the community spread of COVID-19, employers may take an employee’s temperature. However, as a practical matter, an employee may have COVID-19 without having a fever so temperature checks alone are not the most effective preventative measures.

What can I do if a new hire has symptoms of COVID-19 or is displaying symptoms?

Anyone who has COVID-19 or is displaying associated symptoms should not be in the workplace. You may push back his/her start date. For similar reasons, if the new hire cannot safely enter the workplace and you may also withdraw the job offer.

May I ask if an employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 if they call in sick?

Yes. During a pandemic, you may ask the employee if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Remember to maintain all such information collected from the employee as a confidential medical record to be compliant with the ADA.

How can I address fears in my workplace?

Educate employees: You can address the general fear of COVID-19 by educating employees on the signs and symptoms of the coronavirus. Let them know what to look for and the precautions they can take to minimize the risk of getting sick or spreading the virus. Post updates from the CDC and the Hawaii Department of Health in common areas and let employees know you’re monitoring any guidance issued by the appropriate federal and state agencies related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Consider sharing this flyer by the HDOH: COVID-19: What You Need to Know Handle employee concerns seriously: If employees report a concern relating to COVID-19, or about co-worker that recently returned from an “outbreak” area, you should list and document those concerns as if the employee had come to you to complain about a potential safety hazard. Let the employees know that this information will be evaluated and appropriate steps taken if necessary.

Can I terminate an employee who refuses to come to work because they’re afraid of getting sick?

Under OSHA, employees can refuse to work if they believe they are in “imminent danger” and there is a threat of death or serious physical harm that could occur within a short time or before OSHA is able to investigate the problem. At this time, OSHA lists the risk of infection with COVID-19 as “low,” thus most workplaces and work conditions currently do not meet the elements required for an employee to refuse to work under OSHA standards. Keep in mind, however, that if an employee chooses to file a complaint with OSHA on this situation, OSHA prohibits retaliation against an employee who voices concerns about workplace safety. Moreover, if the employee refusing to come into work is pregnant or is otherwise at high-risk (e.g., already has a severe chronic health condition), the ADA may be implicated and it’s best to work with your employee to come up with a reasonable accommodation. If you determine that your employee does not have a valid and recognized reason to come to work, your normal disciplinary and absence policies will apply. Before any disciplinary or adverse action is taken, however, we encourage employers to sit down and discuss the situation with the employee because it may be possible to dispel the employee’s fear in a mutually beneficial way. For example, it might be possible to offer the employee a different work shift or location that minimizes contact with others. Employers may even choose to be more flexible in their paid time off policies by allowing employees to “go negative” into their PTO balances or advance PTO days to the employee to allow the employee to stay home.

What kind of notice and provisions do we need to provide for our employees if we temporarily shut down our operations?

Temporary shutdowns may implicate federal and state worker notification statutes, or “WARN” laws. It is best to consult your attorney to confirm if WARN laws apply to the COVID-19 outbreak and any notice requirements.

Generally, under the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act), employers with 100 or more employees are required to provide 60 days’ advance notice of a permanent or temporary shutdown if the shutdown will (i) affect 50 or more employees at a single site of employment and (ii) result in at least a 50 percent reduction in hours of work of individual employees during the month of the shutdown. However, 60 days’ notice is not required if the shutdown is a result of a “natural disaster” or “unforeseeable business circumstances.”

Although the WARN Act does not specifically address whether a pandemic or potential pandemic qualifies as a natural disaster or unforeseeable business circumstance, the key factor for both is that the event was sudden, dramatic and not foreseeable within the required notice period. Additionally, notice is not required if employees are laid off for less than six months. Unfortunately, in situations like this, it is hard to know how long the layoff will occur so providing notice is usually the best practice. Even if these exceptions apply to the COVID-19 outbreak, you are still required to give as much advance notice as is practicable. You should be prepared to communicate a temporary shutdown once a final decision has been made, even if the shutdown will not occur for several days.

WARN imposes monetary penalties for failing to comply with the laws. Again, please work with your employment law counsel to ensure compliance with WARN and/or DWA.

Do we need to pay hourly or salaried employees if we shut down operations?

Under federal law, employers must pay nonexempt, hourly employees only for hours they actually work. Absent employer policies or contractual agreements to the contrary, these employees are not entitled to be paid during a shutdown of a work location. Nonexempt employees must be paid for all hours worked at a remote location during a shutdown. Exempt, salaried employees (and nonexempt, salaried employees who are paid based on the fluctuating workweek method) must be paid their full salaries for any week in which they perform work (including while working remotely). If they perform no work during the workweek, they do not have to be paid their salary.

How do I determine who I should keep vs. who I should let go?

This is one of the most difficult and important decisions you will make. How do you determine who is essential staff?

We recommend you follow these steps:

  • Determine essential positions critical to sustain your business during this temporary period. If you serve food, this will include the positions which perform tasks such as cooking & food prep, managing suppliers, and servicing customer take-out and home-delivery orders only.
  • For these essential positions, consider reduced hours, or even temporary furlough (zero hours) to continue to retain these employees and have the flexibility to staff your day-to-day business flows.
  • For employees in other positions, if appropriate, consider training them in skills which are critical to your business right now, temporary furlough (zero hours) IF you plan to bring them back after this period subsidies, or if the only practical option, termination.

What about unemployment?

What is full unemployment?

Full unemployment is when the employee is separated from the employer. It doesn’t mean that an employer can’t rehire an employee in the future, it just means that there is no work for the employee for the foreseeable future.

Full unemployment pays up to $648 per week. The Hawaii Unemployment Insurance Benefit Estimator can be used as a quick reference for determining their approximate potential benefit amount. This is only an estimate based on information provided. It may differ from their actual benefit amount.

How are unemployment benefits affected by the new CARES Act?

Under the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, individuals who qualify for unemployment benefits (full and partial) will receive $600 per week in addition to the State’s unemployment benefit they are eligible for. This additional $600 is available for four months. CARES also extends coverage by 13 more weeks, making it possible for an individual to receive unemployment benefits up to 39 weeks. To learn more, read our guide, Cares Act & Unemployment Explained.

Who is eligible for full unemployment, and what are the benefits?

Employees who are fully separated from employment, through no fault of their own, are eligible for full unemployment benefits.

To qualify for Full Unemployment benefits, the employee must have:

  • Earned at least $105.00 in gross earnings per week.
  • Worked at least 2 quarters during the 4 quarter “base period.” For claims submitted during the 1st quarter of 2020, the base period = first three quarters of 2019 and the last quarter of 2018 (Oct 2018 – Sep 2019).
  • Have been a Hawaii resident during the period of employment.

The 2020 weekly benefit amount for Full Unemployment claims ranges between $5.00 – $648.00. The Unemployment office calculates the weekly benefit amount as follows:

  • Start with the highest quarter of earnings for the base period. Divide that number by 21.
  • If that amount is less than $648.00, the calculated amount will be the weekly benefit.
  • For example, if the employee earned a $30,000 salary during the 12-month base period, the highest quarter of earnings = $7,500.00. $7,500/21 = $357.14.
  • $357.14 is less than $648.00, thus the employee receives $357.14 as their weekly benefit

What is partial unemployment?

Partial unemployment is for business or work slowdown, and not intended to supplement income for the long term. Only when the employee’s hours are guaranteed to be back to full-time hours within a short amount of time (for example: 3 to 4 weeks), is partial unemployment appropriate.

Partial unemployment is for employees who are not working or working less than their customary regular scheduled hours due to business/work slow down and earning less than their weekly benefit amount. Employees may earn up to $150 per week and still receive the full weekly benefit amount.

What is the weekly benefit amount for partial unemployment?

The 2020 weekly benefit amount for partial unemployment claims ranges between $5.00 – $648.00. The unemployment office calculates the weekly benefit amount as follows:

  • Start with the highest quarter of earnings for the base period. Divide that number by 21.
  • If that amount is less than $648.00, the calculated amount will be the weekly benefit.
  • For example, if the employee earned a $30,000 salary during the 12-month base period, the highest quarter of earnings = $7,500.00. $7,500/21 = $357.14.
  • $357.14 is less than $648.00, thus the employee receives $357.14 as their weekly benefit.

The weekly benefit amount for partial unemployment then requires a couple additional considerations, based on how much the employee is still working. If the employee is being furloughed, working zero hours and receiving zero wages, the employee receives the $375.14 calculated above. If the employee is working REDUCED hours, additional calculations are required:

  • Calculate gross earnings for the reduced hours for the week: Sunday through Saturday.
  • If the week’s gross earnings exceed $150.00, $150.00 will be subtracted from the weekly benefit. If the week’s gross earnings are below $150.00, the above calculation holds
  • Using the example above, where the employee’s quarterly earnings were $7,500, qualifying them for a weekly benefit of $357.14
  • If the employee earns $150.00 in gross earnings working reduced hours, their weekly benefit will be $357.14-$150.00 = $207.14
  • If the employee earns $149.00 in gross earnings working reduced hours, their weekly benefit will not be changed. They will earn $357.14 in partial unemployment + $149.00 in earnings.

What is the difference between partial and full unemployment insurance?

Partial unemployment is for very temporary leave when a guaranteed return to work date is known, full unemployment is for a longer term when an employee will not be working or when a return to work date is not known.

If an employee is forced to stop working (or have reduced hours) due to the new "Stay At Home" order, are they eligible for full or partial unemployment?

If an employee is still attached to their employer and working reduced hours, or even zero hours (but still technically an active employee), then they would be eligible for partial unemployment. If separated completely, then they would be eligible for full unemployment.

How do my employees apply for unemployment?

For both public safety and increased efficiency, the State of Hawaii Unemployment Insurance office is requiring all employees to submit their unemployment application online here: http://uiclaims.hawaii.gov/.

The State has set up call centers to assist people who need to file for unemployment. The labor department is currently working on improving their current online claims filing process and does not allow walk-in and in-person requests.

Call these phone numbers to get assistance with:

  • Tracking a current case: 833-901-2275
  • Resetting your password: 808-762-5751
  • Setting up an appointment for over-the-phone applications: 808-762-5752

Claims may take up to three weeks to be paid, particularly considering the increased demand for unemployment Insurance offices nationwide. Unemployment Insurance benefits are not automatically taxed. Your employees must request withholding at the time of registration.

Am I obligated to offer health insurance for employees on partial or full unemployment?

You are not obligated to offer health insurance to employees on partial or full unemployment.

ProService is allowing client partners to extend coverage to employees furloughed or laid off for three months, if the employer pays the premium in full. This is your decision as a business owner, it is an option and not required. Any decision to extend coverage (or not) should be made uniformly, across all like-employees in order to avoid discrimination and inequitability.

When the three months continued coverage comes towards an end, anyone who has not returned to work or found alternative employment should apply for health coverage through HealthCare.gov within 60 days of their loss of coverage, but preferably at least 5 days before their coverage ends. There is no waiting period for pre-existing health conditions and applicants cannot be declined if they apply within 60 days of their loss of coverage.

Unemployment recipients, or even those who are without work and do not have access to unemployment (like 1099 contractors), may apply for health insurance via HealthCare.gov and receive a subsidy to offset their costs. Coverage can be as little as $1 per month with the subsidies.

How can I get additional support on unemployment?

As a ProService client, we can help coach you through this process. We can help you work with the Unemployment Insurance office, provide instructions to file and can assist with following up on claims. We will continue to:

  • Process low earnings report requests online via the Unemployment Insurance office’s web portal for employees who are working less than full time hours per week.
  • Process separation information requests on your behalf and may reach out to you for further information surrounding the details of the separation.
  • Work with you to prepare and conduct hearings on your behalf, should an employee appeal the Unemployment Insurance office’s decision. The Employment Security Appeals Office (ESARO) continues to schedule appeal hearings during this time.
  • Provide you with any and all decisions and correspondences received from the Unemployment Insurance office and ESARO and will include instructions if any follow-up action is required by you.

How can we complete Form I-9 if our employees are working remotely?

For employers with an all-remote workforce, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced the following guidelines for complying with the Form I-9 requirements: For purposes of completing Section 2, employers may inspect the provided Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video conference, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of those documents and the signed and dated Form I-9 from the employee, within three business days.
  • All employees on-boarded remotely must receive a copy of the employer’s written remote onboarding and remote working policy (may be separate policies or combined).
  • All employees on-boarded remotely must report to the employer within three business days of resumption of normal operations with the original signed and dated Form I-9 and their Section 2 documents. After physically inspecting those documents, employers should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical delay in the Section 2 “Additional Information” field as well as add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to this field or to Section 3 as appropriate.
  • Employers can use the above process for 60 days, beginning March 20, 2020, or until three business days after the National Emergency is declared over, whichever comes first.
The process above applies only to employers with an all-remote workforce. If the employer still has employees physically present at a work location, there are no exceptions at this time and the employer must continue in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation. The DHS will consider exceptions to in-person verification only on a case-by-case basis if newly-hired employees or existing employees are quarantined or adhering to lockdown protocols because of COVID-19. For in-person verification, employers continue to designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf to complete Section 2. An authorized representative can be any person the employer designates to complete and sign Form I-9 on their behalf, although the employer remains liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process.

What if we received an I-9 Notice of Inspection?

Effective March 19, 2020, any employer that was served a Notice of Inspection by DHS during the month of March 2020 and has not already responded has an automatic extension for 60 days from the effective date. At the end of the 60-day extension period, DHS will determine if an additional extension will be granted.

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    About ProService Hawaii

    ProService Hawaii is the state’s leader in HR management. We give employers access to benefits, payroll, HR and compliance support that make it easier to hire, manage and grow their teams.

    ProService drives local business forward by taking care of 2,200 employers and 35,000 employees statewide. We combine the power of passionate local experts with innovative HR products and a simple online platform that is transforming the workplace in Hawaii. Want to learn more? Download our free ebook to get three big benefits of working with a partner like us.

    Disclaimer: The information above is provided based upon currently known information. The progress of this disease is constantly evolving. We will update information and advice to employers as appropriate. For immediate medical questions, please contact your healthcare professional.

    Mahalo for reading our guide.  The better we are informed, the better decisions we can make, and the safer we can keep our community.

    For both public safety and increased efficiency, the State of Hawaii Unemployment Insurance office is requiring all employees to submit their unemployment application online here: http://uiclaims.hawaii.gov/. Claims may take up to three weeks to be paid, particularly considering the increased demand for Unemployment Insurance offices nationwide. Unemployment Insurance benefits are not taxed. Your employees must request withholding at the time of registration.

    If you are a ProService client, we can help coach you through this process. We can help you work with the Unemployment Insurance office, provide instructions to file and can assist with following up on claims. We will continue to:

    • Process low earnings report requests online via the Unemployment Insurance office’s web portal for employees who are working less than full time hours per week.
    • Process separation information requests on your behalf and may reach out to you for further information surrounding the details of the separation.
    • Work with you to prepare and conduct hearings on your behalf, should an employee appeal the Unemployment Insurance office’s decision. The Employment Security Appeals Office (ESARO) continues to schedule appeal hearings during this time.
    • Provide you with any and all decisions and correspondences received from the Unemployment Insurance office and ESARO and will include instructions if any follow-up action is required by you.