Get practical advice and best practices on how to engage your employees and help them manage stress.
Hear experiences, lessons learned, and best practices from leaders operating on the front line of the COVID storm.
We sat down with Mark Mugiishi, President and CEO of HMSA—to dig a little deeper into a safe reopening from the public health lens.
[0:57] HMSA Response during the pandemic
[3:32] Increase in mental health needs and our kupuna
[5:32] Public health and reopening the state
[7:42] Working with health system partners
[8:32] A potential for a resurgence
[10:02] Masks for Hawaii: Protecting our Island State
[12:00] Contact tracing and Viral Testing
[15:35] Innovations in health care
[18:46] Concluding thoughts for small business owners
Listen to our CEO panelist discuss how they are quickly adapting their go-to-market strategy following the governor's latest announcement.
Hear from our CEO panel on how they're managing and motivating their workforce while evolving their service delivery model amidst times of intense pressure.
With PPP loans funding, all employers are deciding how best to use these funds. Hear two approaches from our CEO panel on how they're using their funds.
[1:10-2:30] Welcome Introductions
[3:25-9:18] The State of Business
[9:19-20:30] Immediate Priorities and Next Steps
[21:49-30:03] PPP Loan: Different Thoughts & Approaches to Funding
[30:10-32:33] Tips for Working with Your Team
[32:37-50:00] Planning for Re-Opening
[50:00-53:13] Q&A – What can businesses do if they’re dependent on tourism?
[53:16-56:25 ]Q&A – The role of retail & restaurant dialogue with state decision-makers?
[56:30-59:58] Q&A – How do you think reduced capacity from social distancing will impact overall volume in restaurants?
[1:00:00] Conclusion: We’re just beginning the reset for what the economy will look like next.
Find info on coronavirus and learn how to protect yourself and others
from spreading the virus.
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.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are: Fever, tiredness, dry cough. Some people may also have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. As many as 25% of people infected with the new coronavirus may not show symptoms, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns,
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
Update as of 5/18: Governor Ige announced the change of his previous “Safer At Home” order to “Act with Care” order as part of the his Eighth Supplementary Proclamation. Social distancing rules and safe practices must still be followed. The 14-day travel quarantine remains in place until the end of June.
Safety Signage Requirement for Businesses: Pursuant to the Governor’s proclamation on April 16, 2020, all essential businesses are required to post a notice on their doors for all employees and visitors. Here’s a poster you can use.
Governors across the nation are taking stronger action by issuing stay-at-home orders in their states. Stay-at-home requires people to stay inside as much as possible and only go out for necessary activities. Exceptions to the order are being made for essential work and services, grocery shopping, medical care and exercise (as long as strict social distancing guidelines are followed).
Update on 9/8: Honolulu Mayor Caldwell extended Oahu’s second Stay-at-Home order which began on August 27 through September 23. With this extension, parks and beaches will reopen but only for individual (solo) activities. Non-essential businesses will continue to be closed, restaurants can only offer takeout, and social activities of any type will continue to be banned. Read the FAQ’s for more information on permitted activities, essential and non-essential businesses, and more.
Oahu’s stay-at-home orders have begun and many businesses must once again navigate a closed economy to curb the spread of COVID-19.
As always, we’re here to help. As you pivot to respond and adjust, here’s a few topical pointers to keep in mind as you head into the next two weeks.
We hope you find this helpful, we’ll share more shut-down survival tips throughout the next two weeks.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the coronavirus. That’s why government officials are recommending that everyone practice social distancing measures at this time. Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, you are still at risk and your activities can increase the risk for others. It is critical that we all do our part to slow the spread of the coronavirus:
Per CDC guidance, older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. They should consult with their health care provider about additional steps they may be able to take to protect themselves.
Learn how to handle employee travel, testing and how to prevent the spread
of coronavirus in your workplace.
I’ve been told that an employee socializes with his friends at restaurants frequently. His coworkers are concerned that he is not following social distancing and face covering practices. What can we do to ensure the employee is following social distancing and face covering practices when he is not at the office so that he does not bring COVID-19 into the workplace
An employee’s off-duty conduct is generally off-limits for an employer to monitor or regulate unless there’s a reasonable relationship between an employee’s off-duty conduct and the employer’s business. In other words, the employer would have to show that the employee’s off-duty contact poses a direct risk to the employer’s business. In the above scenario, however, employers should be careful about assuming an employee is not following social distancing and face covering practices just because the employee eats at restaurants and should instead rely on daily self-certifications by the employee that he or she has not had close contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19 or is waiting for a test result, is not personally exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms and is following all of the employer’s policies on social distancing, face covering, personal hygiene and cleaning and disinfecting while in the workplace.
If an employer learns of more specific information that an employee is not following social distancing and face covering practices off-duty, particularly if the employee works with high-risk individuals, given the current pandemic and that social distancing and face covering wearing is required under current state and county orders, an employer could ask the employee to quarantine at home for 14 days. Know, however, that if an employee’s health care provider is not the one advising the employee to self-quarantine, the employee will not qualify for FFCRA paid sick leave and the employer may have to pay for a portion of that time if the employee is exempt/salaried and already worked a portion of the work week before being ordered to quarantine for 14 days. Employers should also be sure to be consistent when asking employees to quarantine at home for 14 days to avoid any potential discrimination claims by employees.
Finally, even if employers are allowed to monitor an employee’s off-duty contact due to COVID-19 exposure/close contact concerns, it does not mean employers should do so. It could be difficult to consistently apply this practice and sending employees home for 14 days every time a concern is raised might create staffing and production issues for the employer. Also, employers could suffer unintended consequences such as low employee morale.
On Oahu, face coverings while indoors (commercial and residential buildings) is mandatory at all times, especially when engaging and interacting with customers, visitors or other employees. If the company’s policy is also to require face coverings to be worn indoors at all times if social distancing is not attainable, employers should repeat and enforce their face covering policy and discipline their employees accordingly for violating company policy and current county or state orders.
There are certain limited situations that an employee may be exempt from wearing a face covering indoors. If the employee has a recognized disability or has religious reasons for not wearing a face covering they may be exempt from the face covering requirement. Even then, however, the employee does not have an automatic exemption. Employers must discuss with the employee to see if there are any alternate and reasonable accommodations to wearing a face covering that will suffice to protect the employers and others.
As a private business owner, you can require customers or visitors to wear a face covering while on your property. We recommend taking the following steps to minimize disruption to your business by an anti-mask guest or confrontation with such a guest.
First, overly-promote your face covering policy. More awareness of your face covering policy may lessen customer and guests’ confusion of whether or not they must wear a face covering when visiting your business. Make your face covering policy signage abundant at entrances to your business. Post your policy on all of your social media channels to further notify your customers and guests. If you are confirming over email or text a meal reservation or order or a product that is ready for pick up to a customer, include in that email or text a reminder that face coverings are required when visiting your business.
Next, train all of your employees on all health and safety measures you are implementing at the workplace, including the face covering requirement. Your employees are more likely to better communicate the face covering policy to customers and visitors if they understand the health reasons behind the requirements. Also critical for your employees is training on how to politely request customers to wear a face covering. You may even want to consider providing disposable face coverings to customers. Sometimes customers may have simply forgotten to grab a covering so rather than the customer being irritated that he or she has to return home or to the car to grab a covering, by offering a free face covering to a customer you have diffused a potentially uncomfortable situation.
Finally, assign the right employee to communicate your face covering policy to customers and visitors entering your workplace. The best employee is one with a calm, patient and easy-going yet professional demeanor. For their own safety, employees should not argue with customers refusing to wear a mask or physically block customers from entering the premises and instead should know when to escalate the situation to a manager or security or law enforcement (if they feel physically threatened by a customer). Also, under the current county orders, individuals who cannot wear a face covering due to medical conditions or disabilities where the wearing of a face covering may pose a health or safety risk to the person are encouraged to wear a face shield instead. So for any customer claiming they are medically prevented from wearing a face covering, the designated employee should be comfortable with encouraging the customer to return wearing a face shield, or offering your other alternate services you have in place as an option, such as curbside service or online shopping and mail delivery.
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.
Generally, you can assess your employees’ exposure to health risks by answering the following questions about their duties:
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 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing or symptom-altering medicines before returning to work.
Consider the following:
Social distancing is an intervention to increase the physical distance between people and reduce the spread of disease. Economists point out that social distancing is not only saving lives, but also protecting the much-needed workforce from being depleted due to unnecessary illnesses and deaths.
We want to take this opportunity to make ProService Hawaii’s position clear: social distancing is crucial to the survival of hundreds of thousands of people.
Here’s what you can do:
Pursuant to the Governor’s proclamation on April 16, 2020, all essential businesses are required to post a notice on their doors for all employees and visitors. Here’s a poster you can use.
The general answer is yes if the employee is not in a “high-risk” category and there has not been a positive case in the workplace. Under the ADA, however, employers may have to make certain reasonable exceptions or accommodations, such as teleworking or leave, if the employee has a high risk of serious health complications related to COVID-19.
In addition, in certain limited situations, OSHA permits an employee to refuse to work or perform a specific task. Under OSHA’s general duty clause, employers must maintain a safe workplace and mitigate any health or safety hazards. Therefore, in the limited situation of a positive case in the workplace and actual exposure to a coworker testing positive for COVID-19, an employee could refuse to work if ALL of the following conditions are met:
Updated August 14, 2020:
In a nutshell, no. The novel coronavirus has spread to more than 100 countries and nearly every continent.
At this time, any person (visitor and resident) coming into Hawaii must undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. If your employee is subject to this mandatory 14-day quarantine, your employee may be eligible for FFCRA paid sick leave if that employee is unable to work from home during this quarantine period.
Governor Ige also reinstated partial interisland quarantine as of August 11. Under this ruling, anyone traveling within Hawaii from one island to another, with the exception of those arriving on Oahu, will need to quarantine for 14 days.
Employers should limit all business travel, especially 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.
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.
As of August 11, 2020, any person (visitor and resident) coming into Hawaii must undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. If your employee recently traveled and is subject to this mandatory 14-day quarantine, your employee may be eligible for FFCRA paid sick leave if that employee is unable to work from home during this quarantine period.
When can we require employees to get tested for COVID-19 and show proof of a negative test result before returning to work? Do we have to pay for the test? Do we have to pay the employees for the time it takes to get the test and wait for a negative result before they return to work
Unless an employee exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19 or tells you that they have had close contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19, we do not recommend requiring your employees to get tested and show proof of a negative test result before returning to work. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Labor (US DOL) recognizes that requiring documentation or proof of a negative test may put an unnecessary burden on healthcare providers and resources during a pandemic, which makes it difficult for employees to get appointments. This in turn can lead to unnecessary delays when an employee is actually able to work.
Moreover, under the FFCRA, health care carriers will cover the cost of COVID-19 tests only if they are medically necessary. This means that if an employee’s healthcare provider does not order a test but employers require the test as a condition to work, the employer must likely pay for the test. This also means that the time that an employee awaits the tests results is not covered under FFCRA paid sick leave (because the test was not deemed medically necessary) therefore if the employee is an exempt/salaried employee, the employer may also have to pay the employee for the time it takes for the employee to get the test and wait for the results. (Employers do not have to pay non-exempt/hourly employees for any time if that employee did not perform any work).
My employee traveled to the mainland and is currently quarantining at home for 14 days. We work with young children so want to be as safe as possible. Can I require my employee to get a COVID-19 test and provide proof of a negative result before returning to work?
The same answer in the previous question applies to this situation. In addition, if your employee is taking FFCRA paid sick leave to cover his or her 14-day quarantine period and you still want to require a COVID-19 test, you must require all employees returning from leave to take a COVID-19 test, not just those returning from FFCRA paid sick leave. If you require a COVID-19 test for only employees returning from FFCRA paid sick leave, this could be interpreted as disciplining or otherwise discriminating against an employee who took FFCRA paid sick leave.
My employee informed me that she has family members incoming from the West Coast and will be quarantining for 14-days with her. Does my employee also have to quarantine for 14-days
Unless your employee’s family members or your employee begins to show any symptoms of COVID-19 during the family members’ quarantine period, your employee does not have to quarantine for 14 days.
Yes. While taking an employee’s temperature is a medical examination under the American Disabilities Act, 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.
You should send home employees who have tested positive, as well as any employees who’ve worked closely with that employee, for a 14-day period of time to ensure the infection does not spread. Essential workers can return to work if they self-monitor as follows:
Do – Take your temperature before work, wear a face mask at all times & practice social distancing in the workplace as work duties permit
Don't – Stay at work if you become sick, share objects used near face or congregate in break rooms or other crowed work spaces.
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:
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.
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.
My employee’s child will be on a “hybrid” or rotating learning schedule (combination of in-school learning and at-home distance learning). Can my employee take FFCRA leave for the time period that his/her child is distance learning
If the school is operating at a reduced capacity to comply with social distancing guidelines resulting in the employee’s child having no choice but to receive distance learning, FFCRA leave is available on the child’s remote-learning days provided the employee needs the leave to actually care for their child during that time and no other suitable person is available to do so.
An employee is not comfortable sending their child to school even though the school plans to reopen in August. The school has given parents an option to keep their children at home and participate in optional distance learning. Can my employee take FFCRA leave for the time period that his/her child is distance learning?
No. Because in-person learning is available, the school is not considered closed or partially closed.
My employee has requested PTO to travel outside of Hawaii, which means she will be subject to the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine order. Teleworking is not an option for my employee and my company is not exempt from providing FFCRA leave. Is this employee entitled to FFCRA leave even though she knows she will have to stay home for 14 days after her trip? Can I deny her PTO request?
We understand that the U.S. Department of Labor (US DOL) is reviewing this scenario due to the number of states implementing 14-day travel quarantine periods across the country. However, until the U.S. DOL issues further guidance on this question, your employee is likely entitled to FFCRA leave. Of course, if you have a PTO or vacation policy already in place that prohibits employees from being absent from work for more than a specific number of days and the requested leave time exceeds that established policy, then you can deny the employee’s PTO request. Remember that under the FFCRA, paid sick leave because of COVID-19 is in addition to any existing sick leave policy provided by employers as of March 18, 2020. Employers cannot change their sick leave policy to circumvent FFCRA.
No. Emergency Paid Sick Leave for this reason is limited to the time the employee is unable to work because he or she is taking affirmative steps to obtain a diagnosis (e.g., for time spent making, waiting for, or attending an appointment for a test for COVID-19). Once an employee receives a negative test result, he or she is no longer entitled to Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
Find helpful tips for reopening and running a business during a pandemic on topics
like business strategy, people management, safety, remote work, and more.
A big reset is happening right now. Business today now requires new business models and revenue streams, new staff relations, new relationships with our business partners, suppliers, landlords, and customers. When things “finally get back to normal,” our “new normal” will look very different from what we’ve known it to be.
Anticipating and preparing for this new business environment will take a little innovation, some patience, and a whole lot of grit. It will likely include many of the innovations businesses today are developing to survive right now. The important thing to remember is to know what you can control, make intelligent decisions, and rise into a refreshed economy, prepared.
If you want to reopen, stay open, and win long term in this new normal, you will need a comprehensive roadmap for the recovery marathon ahead. Whether it’s building off the State’s master plan and/or building your unique plan independently, start now and start somewhere. And be prepared to change your plan constantly as the environment changes.
Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. In the following FAQs, we’ll provide advice for defining your:
Think about what your business needs to not just survive, but thrive. Start by considering your business outlook for the short-term and long-term future. Think about your business priorities and needs for the first 30 days of reopening and for the next 90 days, 6 months and 12-months ahead.
As you plan ahead, we recommend thinking through three key buckets of your business operations:
Reflect on how your business, customers, partners, competition have adapted in the last several months.
What products and/or services will you stop, continue, and improve?
Find products and services you can dial up to discover efficiencies and opportunities to help differentiate your business. Pairing down or distorting categories is a great way to take stock of what you’re selling and how it fits today’s consumer needs. There may be opportunities to work with new vendors who can contribute to new inventory needs. Or think broader and explore new ways to create revenue by offering your products to other businesses who are seeking it.
Questions to think through:
Consumer behavior will look a lot different as our economy recovers. Hawaii’s high unemployment rate will contribute to less discretionary spending. And people will shop more on a need versus want basis. For this reason and many others, businesses will need to get creative with their customer acquisition strategy and leverage all the tools available to them.
Questions to think through:
Preparing for short-term and long-term business success includes being ready for various scenarios and unknown variables. How will you respond if consumer demand declines even further or if the government mandates re-closure of your business? How will you adapt to changing government restrictions on tourism?
Note: If you are concerned about financial longevity and were approved for a PPP loan, we strongly encourage you to spend your PPP funds strategically over the long-term instead of making maximum loan forgiveness your only priority. Refer to our Strategic Use of PPP Funds for more guidance on this topic.
Questions to think through:
Now that you’ve gotten clarity on business priorities, it’s time to get tactical by focusing on your people strategy.
Start by identifying employee skill sets that are most essential for business moving forward. In addition to operational and technical skills, think about more general competencies that will be necessary for reinvigorating your service culture, such as problem-solving, adaptability, leadership and collaboration. Deciding your core team/who to bring back should be aligned with your business strategy. Know that your financial situation may drive key staffing decisions. For example: If you anticipate a 30% reduction of revenues, consider bringing back 30% less staff.
Note: Know that your new business environment may require skill sets now and in the future. Don’t be pressured on bringing everyone back. It’s ok to keep some employees on furlough. It’s also okay to leverage Hawaii’s high unemployment to hire new talent to fill any skills gaps in your team. Spend the money on the best people. Think of it as an investment in the future.
Next, determine if employees should a) work 100% onsite, b) work 100% remotely from home, or c) work onsite and remotely. Review all employee’s responsibilities and identify any activities that require them to be physically on-site. If an employee’s job doesn’t involve primarily in-person/onsite work, we recommend you ask them to work from home to minimize their risk of exposure and enable you to reduce the total number of people on site. Partial remote work is also an option for those who need to be onsite periodically.
Questions to consider:
How do you get your employees excited to come back to work? Before you pick up the phone to call people back to work, spend some time planning how you will bring them back. Why? The way you bring your people back is your first step to rebuilding workplace culture and re-connecting your team.
Here are four tips to get you started.
Start off the conversation with a tone of enthusiasm and gratitude. Remember, some of your employees may not be looking forward to your call or may still feel frustrated at being furloughed. Tell your employee how much you appreciate them and how excited you are about the possibility of working with them again. Explain that the loosening of government regulations means your business may be reopening soon and you would like to discuss the situation with them.
Be prepared to really listen. Hear out and empathize with employee concerns and be prepared to address any employee concerns, such as workplace safety, scheduling changes and frustrations at the possibility of not earning as much as on UI. Note: If an employee refuses to return because they’re collecting richer UI benefits, explain that unemployment payments are generous right now, but UI benefits aren’t long-term. Additional benefits from the CARES Act ends in July.
Your employees are aware that the workplace has changed but that doesn’t mean they can read your mind. Set clear expectations about what your business and their work will look like in the “new normal”. Tell them what you need from them, and how you intend to support them also.
Find out if they are willing and able to return and will be fully committed. Make the ask: Are you in? Determine if the employee is willing and able to return, has any new work constraints, and if he/she is fully committed to going above and beyond. If an employee says they’re not available (or not interested in returning to work), you may not want to jeopardize their UI by giving them an offer to return. When an employee refuses an official offer to return to work, they may lose their unemployment benefits. If you really need them back, have that hard conversion to convince them and work out a solution. You can consider additional benefits to entice them e.g. stipend, per diem to cover food/meals to help make up for lost wages, etc.
Here are important HR topics or policies you should cover with your team:
Businesses may consider taking employee’s temperatures before they enter the building, but remember that not all COVID-19 patients experience a fever.
You can also require employees to read and commit that they have none of the symptoms in this notice before they enter your work-place each day. This will help to keep your work-site safe and ensure the health and wellness of your team and customers. Download the Employee Covid-19 Certification Notice.
While HIPPA rules generally prohibit asking employees about their health, the EEOC updated its guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act and the coronavirus, explaining that employers have the right to screen employees for COVID-19. However, mandatory medical tests must be job-related and consistent with business necessity.
If an employee has a higher risk for Covid-19, you are not permitted to exclude an employee from coming back to work or take any other unfavorable action simply because you are concerned about their health. According to the ADA, this is not allowed unless the employee’s disability presents a “direct threat” (significant risk of substantial harm) to his or her health and cannot be addressed by any other reasonable accommodation.
Proactively make accommodations that reduce or eliminate the direct threat of Covid-19, such as:
If an employee requests a reasonable accommodation because they have a medical condition that makes them higher-risk for Covid-19, here what you need to know:
Life and work amidst COVID-19 presents several potential HR pitfalls, especially as you make decisions about how to staff onsite locations. Can you choose not to bring back older employees or employees with pre-existing health conditions if you want to keep them safe? Even if they did not request an accommodation? Can you pay to keep a COVID-recovered employee home because other employees are still worried about being infected?
Here are examples of discriminatory selection when it comes to deciding which employees to return to work:
All employers must create a safe working environment that gives employees the confidence to return to work, and customers confidence to engage. Properly disinfecting your entire business and designing customer-facing areas that work is critical. Here’s what we suggest you do:
5. LIMIT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN A CLOSED SPACE
Here’s what our banking partners at American Savings Bank say:
If you do not have sufficient cash in the bank to cover these 45-day expenses, consider the following actions:
Note: ProService Hawaii has outlined several business relief programs that are currently available to employers in our Relief Programs Guide.
Thousands of employees in Hawaii still receive live checks. For those who aren’t set-up with direct deposit, the stakes of going to the bank or a check-cashing facility to deposit their physical checks as coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to threaten public health are high.
If some employees still receive live checks, we strongly urge employers to advise your team 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. Similarly, setting-up and becoming familiar with mobile banking is strongly encouraged.
In recent days employers have been faced with very difficult and unanticipated situations in the workplace. As the coronavirus continues to spread across the state and country, employee absences from the workplace will be more frequent—whether related to personal or family illness due to the virus, school closures, voluntary or involuntary quarantines, fear of contracting the virus, etc.
As an employer, you need to be ready to adapt your business practices to maintain critical operations.Here are some things you might consider:
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.
Determine what people and resources are required for your business to operate. Take a look at existing employee roles and responsibilities. Identify the following:
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.
Maybe you’ve determined that an employee doesn’t need to be physically in the office to do their core work. But do they have the right resources and access to do their job at home?
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, 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.
Determine what tools the employee needs to do their job. For example:
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.
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.
If an all-remote or majority-remote workforce is not practical for your business, ideas to discuss among your management and operations teams are:
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.
You’ve decided that remote-work makes sense for your business and your team. Now what?
Some of your team may feel thrilled about the possibility of working remotely—but not everyone will feel that way. Some may dread it. But if remote work is our new reality, your role is to help employees make the best of it.
Here are some quick tips:
For more detailed tips, download a free copy of our ebook: For the full detailed version of our tips, download a free copy of our ebook: Unexpectedly Transitioning to Remote Work.
While remote work is nothing new, it’s the first time so many people have made the shift at once — so it’s natural for some to find the transition challenging.
One of the biggest questions many employers have is how they will be able to communicate with and manage their team. How will you know if people are getting their work done? How can you build relationships if you’re not seeing your people every day? The uncertainty of how things will work can add to an already stressful situation.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to make communication and management easier.
For the full detailed version of our tips, download a free copy of our ebook: Unexpectedly Transitioning to Remote Work.
Our experts provide quick answers to the top questions we're hearing from our clients (and their employees) right now.
This webinar was recorded on July 9, 2020.
We sat down with an amazing group of restaurant leaders to talk about their experiences through reopening, lessons learned, and their thoughts on what's ahead in the next few months.
[4:17] What's working – takeout, menus, and specials
[10:30] What's next – plans for coming months
[28:40] Getting the word out and marketing strategies
[37:52] Putting safety first
[45:40] Learning from corporate or mainland counterparts
[55:58] Closing Thoughts
This webinar was recorded on July 1, 2020.
Learn suggestions and best practices for protecting your staff and students, complying with social distancing guidelines, and implementing protective measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in an education environment.
This webinar was recorded on June 16, 2020.
Learn suggestions and best practices for protecting your employees, complying with social distancing guidelines, and implementing protective measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in a healthcare setting. Examples of companies that benefit from this course: medical and dental practices, chiropractic offices, vision care offices, diet and health coaching services, urgent care, and walk-in clinics.
This webinar was recorded on June 5, 2020.
Learn suggestions and best practices for protecting your employees, complying with social distancing guidelines, and implementing protective measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in a construction worksite.
This webinar was recorded on June 5, 2020.
Learn suggestions and best practices for protecting your employees, complying with social distancing guidelines, and implementing protective measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in an office work environment.
This webinar was recorded on May 29, 2020.
Share this video with your employees to educate them on practical strategies and steps to work safely in the “new normal”. In this webinar we’ll cover 3 important aspects:
This webinar was recorded on May 29, 2020.
Learn to protect your employers, customers, and ensure a safe worksite for everyone. Ensure you are familiar with the Department of Health Dine-in Guidelines.
This webinar was recorded on May 26, 2020.
In this course, we discuss how to protect your employees, your customers, and your store with appropriate cleaning, physical distancing, and training.
This webinar was recorded on May 21, 2020.
Hear our restaurant panelists discuss the challenges they face and how they're overcoming them to reopen their dine-in services. Our panelists include:
This webinar was recorded on May 20, 2020.
Hear how thought leaders in our community are pivoting their businesses, and using COVId-19 driven innovations to define their New Normal. Our panelists include:
This webinar was recorded on May 12
Get guidance from our panel for reopening your business to not only survive but to thrive. Our panel of experts include:
This on-demand training was recorded on August 18, 2020.
Ensure safety for you and your employees with our expert guidance on how to create a workplace pandemic response plan. Learn essential strategies for assessing exposure risk, implementing workplace controls and handling a positive case.
This webinar was recorded on March 26, 2020
We provide tips and strategies to stay productive and connected with your team. Hosted by: Marissa Page, Learning & Development Specialist, ProService Hawaii.
[5:23] Intro: Work as we know it is changing
[8:20] Webinar goals
[10:06] Tips to boost productivity
[13:00] Set-up your workspace
[31:31] Hours, breaks and boundaries
[39:22] Anticipate distractions
[45:27] Physical and mental health
[48:27] Choose your mindset
This webinar was recorded on April 9
We discuss causes and risk factors in your daily work and how to utilize proper postures and stretching exercises. Hosted by Jason Propst, Safety Training & Development Specialist.
[1:38] Ergonomics defined
[2:56] Cause and risk factors
[9:56] Types of injuries
[12:37] Ergonomic solutions
[20:46] Ergonomic exercises and stretches
We explore four factors to help you successfully navigate change.
[0:45] Successfully navigating change
[1:30] 4 factors to navigate change
[2:57] Leadership effectiveness
[4:33] Organizational effectiveness
[5:57] Mission, vision and values
We receive six best practices for making tough decisions in uncertain times.
[2:25] Foster connection
[3:14] Provide balanced leadership
[4:29] Be decisive
[4:54] Practice agility
We discuss the components needed to drive resilience as a leader.
[1:09] Heart & head
[2:30] Mission driven
[4:18] Speed over elegance
[5:21] Own the narrative
[6:32] Embrace the long view
We discuss how to develop a growth mindset that can help you reinvent your business and seek opportunities for future growth.
[0:47] Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset
[2:17] Leadership mindsets
[6:20] People strategies
Learn about programs available to help you
retain employees and sustain your business during this crisis
There are several government relief programs now available to small businesses and their employees. You may have heard of 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.
Keep on reading to learn more about these programs in-depth. Or, read our SMB Guide to Relief Programs for COVID-19 to get an overview of each one.
Updated on 4/24: The CARES 2 Act, a $484 billion relief bill, has been signed into law. Of this, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will receive an additional $310 billion and the Economic Impact Disaster loan (EIDL) program will receive $60 billion.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES, is a $2.2T relief program that was passed by Congress on March 27, 2020.
The historic stimulus package offers relief to employers and employees in the form of 1) enhanced SBA loans, 2) employer tax credits, and 3) expanded unemployment insurance benefits.
One of the CARES Act’s primary benefits to small business owners is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) SBA loan. This program will provide businesses with cash-flow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans in order to retain your employees and maintain your payroll during this emergency.
If your PPP loan was approved, congratulations! With proper planning, PPP funds can help you survive the eight weeks after loan disbursement and rebuild, re-staff and thrive long after that.
While maximizing PPP loan forgiveness is very important, we believe the best course of action is to shift the focus away from maximizing loan forgiveness, and instead solve for these two business goals for your business:
If you are a ProService client, please contact us to schedule a consultation to help you develop your strategic business plan.
The SBA released two loan forgiveness application forms aligned with the new rules of the PPP Flexibility Act:
If you meet the criteria listed below, you are eligible to use the EZ Forgiveness Application. Otherwise, you should use the Full Forgiveness Application form.
While you can’t submit your loan forgiveness application until your 8-week period ends, there are things you can do to get prepared today.
Updated June 11, 2020:
On June 5, 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA) was signed into law and significantly changed the original loan forgiveness rules of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
Here are the changes as a result of PPPFA:
The deadline to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been extended to August 8, 2020.
If you are a ProService Hawaii client and need assistance with your PPP application, please contact us directly.
Updated July 29, 2020
The Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act is new legislation currently undergoing review in Congress. If passed as currently written, this act would provide additional assistance to small businesses that are struggling to recover from the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
There are a number of components to this bill, however the most pertinent for our partners are:
Please read this important update to get the latest information. As we receive more information, we will continue to provide updates.
There are two tax programs you might want to learn more about: 1) Employee retention tax credit, and 2) Payroll tax deferral.
The Employee Retention Tax Credit is designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on payroll by providing a refundable tax credit of 50% of up to $10,000 in wages.
You are eligible if your business is fully/partially suspended because of a government order, or if you have 50% reduction in quarterly receipts because of COVID-19.
Here are the key points:
As an employer, you are required to deposit your share of payroll taxes to the U.S. Treasury electronically either semi-weekly or monthly. With the Payroll Tax Deferral program from the CARES Act, you may defer paying your share of payroll taxes owed on wages paid through 2020.
Here are the key points:
For more information, read our guide: The Small Business Guide to Relief Programs for COVID-19
Updated June 15, 2020:
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced that they will begin accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications again from all eligible small businesses and U.S. agricultural businesses impacted by COVID-19 starting June 15.
What is an EIDL?
EIDLs are low-interest SBA loans (3.75% for businesses, 2.75% for not-for-profits) which can be used for debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact, and that are not already covered by a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan,
The EIDL Advance program allows eligible applicants to receive up to a $10,000 advance, which do not need to be repaid, even if they are denied loan approval.
If I already have a pending EIDL application, should I reapply?
If your previous application did not include a request for the Advance (or you applied before the Advance was made available), you should reapply. Otherwise, the SBA is processing all applications on a first-come, first served basis so you do not need to send in a new application.
Is EIDL different from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?
Yes, the PPP and EIDL are separate loan relief programs that are available to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. An eligible business can use funds from both programs to help with certain business expenses during this crisis. For more information on PPP and EIDL program rules, watch this quick video.
Updated on 6/16/20:
For those with a pending EIDL application:
If your previous application did not include a request for the Advance (or you applied before the Advance was made available), you should send in a new application.
Otherwise, if you previously applied for an EIDL and/or the Advance, you do not need to reapply. The SBA is processing all applications on a first-come, first served basis.
For those who already received EIDL or an advance due to COVID-19:
Businesses are limited to one EIDL per disaster. If you already received an EIDL and/or advance due to COVID-19, you are no longer eligible
How to Apply:
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.
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.
The Small Business Relief & Recovery Fund is a reimbursement grant available for businesses with a commercial location on Oahu. This includes not for profits on Oahu.
The grant is up to $10,000 on a first come first served basis and application launches on Monday, May 18th.
As with previous relief programs, we expect the demand will be high and funds will be depleted quickly.
There are 8 requirements for this grant, here are the first 3:
We highly recommend you prepare your documents as soon as you can so you are early to submit your application when the program opens.
It is critical that you submit ALL of your required documents. An incomplete application will not be processed.
Here is the list of documentation required: Small Business Relief & Recovery Application Information
Refer to the list below as an example of how your credit union will be assigned – based on the last four digits of your GET number (not considering any dashes).
For example, if the GET number is 1234567-01, then the last four would be 6701 and fall to credit union #3. Links to the credit unions will be available when the program opens Monday, May 18th at 12:00pm.
On Monday, May 18th at 12-noon go to: (oneoahu.org/small-business) (refresh the page) and look for the application link for your assigned Credit Union. Please call that credit union for any questions specific to your application
Please see this list of Frequently Asked Questions
Costs incurred from business interruption due to the COVID-19 Emergency Proclamations promulgated on March 20, 2020
Examples of expenditures include Rent, Payroll, Utilities, and costs incurred to meet requirements of social distancing and employee/customer safety such as provision of hand sanitizers, disinfecting, installation of barriers/protection devices, signs and electronic/automation equipment
Those costs in the listing for reimbursable expenses that have already been compensated for under Federally-funded CARES Act funds such as Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Applicants must certify these funds, if received, did not pay for items being claimed.
This relief will be in the form of a grant through federal credit unions (you do not need to be a current credit union client to apply):
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.
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.
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.
Under this new law, employees of companies with less than 500 employees are entitled to:
There are several relief programs available to small business employers impacted by COVID-19. 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: The Small Business Guide to Relief Programs for COVID-19. Get started by selecting which scenario is closest to your situation and review the programs available to you and your employees.
On Saturday, August 8th, President Trump signed four executive orders related to COVID-19 relief. While two of the orders are pertinent to businesses, it has been reported in the media that all of the orders may be subject to constitutional challenge, thereby impacting implementation. Consequently, more time is needed to determine when and how the relief actions proposed by President Trump will take effect.
In the meantime, please read the following summary of the relevant orders:
Again, none of the proposals summarized above have been implemented. Rest assured that as we receive more information we will continue to provide updates that affect our partners.
Description: The Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation (HCRC) is providing short-term bridge loans and term loans to non-profit organizations and mission-aligned small businesses that are otherwise unable to secure financing and are in immediate need of capital as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and mandatory business shut down.
Application Deadline: Accepting applications until funds are no longer available.
For more information:
Description: The High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) is offering grants (up to $500,000 per recipient) to small businesses in Hawaii to help establish a local supply chain of cleaning supplies and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Visit the HTDC website for full program details.
Accepting applications until funds are no longer available.
For more information:
Description: The State of Hawaii COVID-19 PPE Distribution Program is an initiative created by SB126 Act 9 of the 2020 Legislative Session to purchase and distribute at no cost critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Qualified Recipients to assist them in maintaining their critical facilities and businesses during the COVID-19 emergency. Distribution is tentatively anticipated to occur from mid October – December 2020, supplies permitting.
Application Deadline: Accepting applications until funds are no longer available.
Updated on 9/17/20: Mayor Calwell announced this program has received another round of funding and will be providing an additional $75M in reimbursement grants. For more information on the program, visit oneoahu.org.
The new rules of the program will be effective at noon on Monday, Sept 21, as follows:
Description: This program will help small businesses cover costs incurred from business interruption due to Emergency Proclamations and to help implement safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Application Deadline: Accepting applications until funds are no longer available.
For more information:
Description: The City Administration in cooperation with the Honolulu City Council established the COVID-19 Hardship Relief Program with $25 Million in CARES Act funds to offer quick financial relief to Oʻahu households impacted by the pandemic.
Application Deadline: Accepting applications until funds are no longer available.
For more information:
Description: The Maui Chamber of Commerce and County of Maui have partnered to create the Micro Business Loan Program to help micro business owners through COVID-19, the resulting recession and beyond. Loans awarded through the program are offered as emergency and working capital loans in amounts ranging from $7,500 – $25,000.
Application Deadline: Accepting applications until funds are no longer available.
For more information:
Description: The new Kokua Maui County Small Business Recovery & Relief Fund utilizes CARES Act funds to help local small businesses recover and survive impacts from COVID-19. The County of Maui is partnering with six chartered FCU’s to implement the program: Maui County FCU, Maui FCU, Valley Isle Community FCU, Kahului FCU, Wailuku FCU and Maui Teachers FCU. The fund covers reimbursable business expenses limited to rent/lease payments, utility payments and COVID-19-related safety precautions at the place of business. The maximum award for small businesses is $7,500.
Application Deadline: Applications will be available starting August 3, 2020 until October 31, 2020, based on availability of funds.
For more information:
Description: The County of Hawaii has aggregated a variety of grant search and proposal development tools for use by nonprofit organizations, county agencies, and educational institutions in Hawaiʻi County. Visit their website to review the individual grants related to COVID-19 currently being offered such as:
Eligibility: See individual grants for details
Application Deadline: See individual grants for details
For more information:
Kupa'a Kaua'i Rise to Work
ProService is extremely excited to partner with the County of Kauai to launch Kupa`a Kaua`i Rise to Work. It’s a new program that will create short-term employment opportunities for hundreds of displaced workers in Kauai using $2 million dollars from Federal CARES Act funding. To learn more, visit www.kauaiforward.com/risetowork.
Description: The County of Kauai is partnering with local credit unions to create a Small Business Boost Grant. The grant will provide up to $7,500 in financial support to small businesses on Kauai to help offset losses related to COVID-19. Grant eligibility and more information will be announced in mid-August.
Eligibility and more information: Visit kauaiforward.com/businessgrant/ for updates and more information
Application Deadline: Grant information not yet available.
Watch our short 13-minute video to review the current status of the ever-evolving Paycheck Protection Program and what you can do today.
How does the new Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA) impact your decision making for the remainder of the year? Get answers from our HR experts.
[0:00] Welcome and introductions
[3:29] Why you can more easily achieve loan forgiveness
[6:21] Overview of the PPP Flexibility Act's provisions
[8:13] Deep dive into the key provisions
[27:02] Next steps to prepare for your loan forgiveness application
Our team of experts reviewed the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application released by the SBA on May 15, 2020.
Watch this video to learn how you can start preparing, and what we are continuing to research in order to provide you final instructions.
[3:00] What we've learned with this update
[18:38] Forgiveness calculation example
[42:59] What we're researching further
[52:45] Next steps
This webinar was recorded on April 15
We sat down with Rich Wacker, President & CEO of ASB, to get his perspective and what his team has done to secure valuable loan money for Hawaii employers.
This webinar was recorded on April 10
Explore tools and tactics for business survival during COVID-19. Gain insights and guidance into making the most of your PPP loan, cutting costs, and implementing strategies to stay afloat.
This webinar was recorded on March 26
The objective of this webinar is to provide an overview of the new FFCRA law which provides several leave options that benefit employers with less than 500 employees and their employees. Our HR experts will review the key elements of the law, the eligibility, and discuss how it works. Hosted by Janina Abiles, Director of HR & Safety Training at 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
[36:50] Returning to Work
[5:40] CARES Basics
[19:00] ASB Expedited Process
[25:50] Advice from SBA
[39:50] Tax relief from CARES
This webinar was recorded on April 2
This is a recording of a panel discussion with our partners—all local experts in our community—as we unpack the core components of the historic CARES Act and explain how it can benefit your business and your employees.
Moderated by Janina Abiles, Director Of HR & Safety Training
This webinar was recorded on April 7
This is a recording of an interview with Congressman Ed Case and Ben Godsey about the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) and the Cares Act, moderated by Janina Abiles, Director of HR & Safety Training at ProService Hawaii.
This webinar was recorded on April 9
Now that you’ve submitted your Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application, what’s next? That’s exactly the focus of this recorded webinar. We discuss how to maximize forgiveness of your PPP loan, while staying compliant , how to aggressively manage expenses to sustain operations for 6 months, and much more.
[5:50] How to earn Maximum Loan Forgiveness
[10:52] EIDL Loan
[13:05] How PPP & EIDL Can Work Together
[16:00] Head Count for PPP
[17:10] Get Leaner
[19:00] Keeping the Best to be the Best
[24:35] Cut Costs and Conserve Cash
[27:56] Streamline Operations
[36:08] What is the State of Your Business
[38:10] Plan for the Future Today
This webinar was recorded on April 3
How do you quickly find and apply for the relief programs that best suit YOUR business and your employees? That’s exactly the focus of this recorded webinar. Not only do we tell you what each program does, we unpack which programs will help your business the most, depending on your specific situation. Hosted byJanina Abiles, Director of HR & Safety Training at ProService Hawaii.
[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
Get helpful information on layoffs and unemployment
before making the tough decision to reduce your workforce
This is one of the most difficult and important decisions you will make. Before you decide to pursue a Reduction in Force (RIF), or layoff , it’s advisable to first explore alternatives. In fact, you should treat a RIF as a last-ditch effort when all other alternatives fail.
First, consider using one or more of these alternatives:
For example: If you serve food, essential positions/tasks critical to sustain your business might be cooking & food prep, managing suppliers, and servicing customer take-out and home-delivery orders only. For these essential positions, you could 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.
After exploring alternatives, if you decide to implement a reduction in force, or layoff, here are the steps to follow:
Before you take action on a RIF, we strongly recommend that you look into how other relief programs available, like a PPP Loan, could benefit your business. If you did receive a PPP loan, keep in mind that any reduction in full-time employees from your 2/15/2020 headcount will impact your amount of loan forgiveness.
For more details on this sensitive subject, please check out our free ebook: The Boss’s Guide to Reduction in Force.
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 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.
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.
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.
Unemployment insurance is a program administered by the Unemployment Insurance Division of the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The purpose of this program is to provide temporary financial assistance to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and who meet the requirements of the Hawaii Employment Security Law. Unemployment insurance benefits are paid as a matter of legal entitlement and past employment, and not on the basis of need.
In Hawaii, employers pay all the costs of unemployment insurance through a payroll tax or reimbursable basis. Employees do not pay any part of their wages to finance the program.
There are two types of unemployment insurance coverage:
The State unemployment office will determine the type of benefit and benefit amount each individual receives. Generally, an employee will likely be eligible for partial unemployment benefits if he/she is still considered employed but there are no hours or reduced hours because there is little or no work to do. Any employee who is unable to work because of a COVID-19 related reason (diagnosis, exposure, self-quarantine, government order, workplace closed) may qualify for unemployment benefits. If an individual has been laid off and is no longer an employee, he/she may be eligible for full unemployment benefits. Each case is unique.
See our other FAQs for more in-depth information.
It is up to your employee to apply for unemployment benefits directly to the state, but your decision as an employer determines the information they will need to apply for their benefits. Here’s what you should communicate to your employees:
In order to apply, individuals must complete 3 steps:
For both public safety and increased efficiency, the State of Hawaii Department of Labor requires everyone to submit their unemployment application online and does not allow walk-in/in-person requests.
Claims may take three weeks or more to be paid, particularly considering the increased demand for unemployment insurance offices nationwide. Unemployment insurance benefits are not automatically taxed. Claimants must request withholding at the time of registration.
Note: The State is very strict and each claimant must submit and change his or her own application for unemployment, not the employer.
To apply for unemployment, claimants will need the following:
The DOL has provided these phone numbers for assistance (as of 4/7):
Here are additional resources for more in-depth information:
Under the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, individuals who qualify for unemployment benefits may be eligible to receive $600 per week through July 31st.
For full or partial UI, individuals need to be receiving at least $1 in UI benefits in order to receive the $600 federal payment. HOWEVER, if an individual receives partial State UI and his/her wages exceed the State weekly benefit amount then he/she will NOT qualify for the $600 CARES benefit.
If an individual is eligible for the $600 CARES benefit, he/she will receive this benefit in addition to the unemployment amount from the State. For example, an individual may receive up to $648 (State maximum UI benefit) and the $600 (CARES Act benefit) per week.
The additional CARES $600/week benefit is available through July 31st. CARES also extends coverage by 13 more weeks, making it possible for an individual to receive unemployment benefits up to 39 weeks.
There is no additional application process for the CARES $600/week benefit. If an individual applied for UI through the State, the $600/week benefit will be automatically distributed to as well. Individuals must be sure to follow any directions the State gives them regarding the $600/week benefit. The State will release information about the timeframe for distributing CARES benefit funds as soon as it is available.
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 the approximate potential benefit amount. This is only an estimate based on information provided. It may differ from their actual benefit amount.
To qualify for Full Unemployment benefits, the employee must have:
The 2020 weekly benefit amount for Full Unemployment claims ranges between $5.00 to $648.00. The Unemployment office calculates the weekly benefit amount as follows:
With the CARES Act, the employee in the example above will receive $357.14 in full unemployment + $600 per week = $957.14 per week in total unemployment benefits.
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.
To qualify for Full Unemployment benefits, the employee must be:
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:
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:
With the CARES Act, the employee in the example above will receive $357.14 in partial unemployment + $600 per week = $957.14 per week in total unemployment benefits.
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 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.
Employers are not obligated to offer health insurance to employees on partial or full unemployment, unless the employee is still working 20 or more hours per week.
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.
If you’re a ProService client, you have the option to extend coverage to employees furloughed or laid off for three months, if you pay 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.
There has been recent news about unemployment fraud becoming more prevalent and we all need to be vigilant.
The State of Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) has been mailing letters when an unemployment claim is filed. If you receive a letter or notification from the State and you did not apply for unemployment, that is a sign that a fraudulent claim has been filed in your name. Click here to view a sample letter.
Here are two steps you should take to address the fraud:
If you suspect that an imposter claim has been filed in your name, contact the Unemployment Insurance Division at (808) 586-8947.
If people are unable to work directly because of COVID-19 and they are not ordinarily eligible for State UI benefits may be eligible to receive the PUA Benefit. People may qualify for the PUA Benefit if they meet one or more of the following requirements:
No, workers are not eligible for PUA if they can telework with pay.
No, workers are not eligible for PUA if they are receiving paid sick days or paid leave.
This webinar was recorded on March 24
This webinar is intended for employees who’ve been laid off and are seeking instructions and eligibility information on applying for unemployment in Hawaii. Hosted by Marissa Paige, Learning & Development Specialist at ProService Hawaii.
[2:35] Reduction in force defined
[3:01] Alternatives to RIF or layoffs
[13:21] RIF planning
[14:37] 7 steps for executing a RI
[28:32] Sample layoff script
[31:40] Sample script for notifying workforce
This webinar was recorded on March 23
This webinar is intended for employers who are making decisions regarding unemployment and layoffs for their business. Hosted byJanina Abiles, Director of HR & Safety Training.
[1:59] What is unemployment?
[2:51] Qualification for unemployment
[8:10] Partial unemployment
[10:25] Full unemployment
[12:05] Full vs partial unemployment
[14:40] What if my employees don't want to separate?
[16:16] Do I still have to provide health insurance?
[18:15] Where to guide employees
Find local programs and services that are providing community support during this crisis.
The City & County of Honolulu Household Hardship Relief Fund provides assistance for Oahu residents who have experienced a loss of income and/or increased financial need directly resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund is operated by Aloha United Way.
An eligible applicant may receive up to $2,000 for:
And up to $500:
With the unprecedented number of layoffs and furloughs resulting from COVID-19, many tenants are stretched to make rent payments, while landlords continue to worry about paying their mortgage and bills.
If you are a tenant or landlord looking for mediation support to work out realistic rent payment plans, check out the Rapid Response Landlord-Tenant mediation program offered by The Mediation Center of the Pacific (MCP).
There is no cost to participate in the program and the service is currently available on Oahu and Hawaii Island. For more information, call 808-521-6767 (Mon-Fri, 8:30 am – 1:30 pm) or visit www.mediatehawaii.org.
Aloha United Way 211 is Hawaii’s only comprehensive, statewide community information and referral service. There are over 4,000 local social service resources listed in AUW’s database. All listings are made up of health, social, nonprofit, and government services.
If employees need assistance finding services, 211 specialists can help them find food, shelter, financial assistance, child care, parenting support, elderly care, disability services, job training and much more. Plus, it’s free and confidential.
Click here for details on COVID-19 assistance programs currently available such as:
Connect with a 211 Specialist on Monday-Friday, from 7 am – 5pm: Call (211), text (877-275-6569) or email (email@example.com)
Or, search AUW 211’s online database, available online 24/7.
Helping can come in many forms. Here are a few ideas:
Hawaii’s nonprofits need help to provide health services, food, shelter, and more to Oahu’s most vulnerable who are being affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Help support organizations by volunteering your time or donating much needed items. Your support will enable organizations to continue providing valuable services and programs to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the recovery process.
Visit Aloha United Way’s COVID-19 Community Support Initiative to find a volunteer opportunity. Some are as simple as writing an encouraging note!
In response to tremendous need, Aloha United Way has launched the COVID-19 Rent & Utility Assistance program. The program has $1.25 million in initial funding, and AUW estimates that will be able to help about 900 families.
Visit Aloha United Way’s Hawaii COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund for more info or to donate if you have the means.
An act of kindness can go a long way in helping us all get through this together. We’ve been encouraging our employees to pay it forward in these times and inspire others to do the same.
Here are a few ideas:
The list can go on and on!
Get practical information for ensuring elderly family members have their physical and emotional needs met in a loving and supportive environment through five essential best practices.
Find strategies to promote children’s resilience during the covid-19 pandemic by utilizing the Five Protective Factors.
Learn five techniques to enhance your families’ coping skills and spend quality time together during stay at home orders.
To our visitors: This is an extraordinary time for everyone. Businesses are shrinking, unemployment is skyrocketing, while the need for solid HR advice has never been more critical for employer survival and employee well-being.
In this time of crisis, ProService wants to offer our HR expertise to help you get the information you need, whether you’re a client of ours, or not.
Our experts across all facets of HR—payroll, benefits, business relief programs, unemployment, workers comp’, labor laws, and HR & safety training— are standing by to assist you in your time of need. We want to help you make the best decisions for your business and your work ohana—so you can get back to business.
The more we can keep our community employed and our businesses running, the faster we can get our State on the road to recovery.
Much aloha Hawaii, we’re here for you,
Ben Godsey, President & CEO