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Employer's Guide to Coronavirus

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Coronavirus Basics

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.

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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.

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On 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, 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.

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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).

In Hawaii, Gov. David Ige issued a “stay at home” order for Hawaii residents on March 25 and will last through at least April 30. “These actions are extreme, but necessary, to flatten the curve and lay the groundwork for our recovery,” Ige said.

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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:

  • Work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible.
  • Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
  • Use drive-thru, pickup, take out or delivery options for food and grocery items.
  • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
  • Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
  • Drop off food to family or loved ones, but do not gather socially
  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands, especially after touching any frequently used item or surface.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow.
  • Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.
  • Donate excess toilet paper, hand sanitizers or masks to essential businesses or healthcare facilities

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.

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Health & Safety at Work

Learn how to handle employee travel, testing and how to prevent the spread
of coroanvirus in your workplace.

1. Assess your employees’ exposure to risk

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)

Generally, you can assess your employees’ exposure to health risks by answering the following questions about their duties:

  • Do employees have face-to-face contact with large numbers of people?
  • Do employees spend time in work sites, like health care settings, where they may come into contact with ill people?
  • Do employees handle materials that could be contaminated, like laboratory samples or healthcare waste?

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2. Tell sick employees to stay home

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.
3. Implement Infection Control
  • 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.
  • Remind 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.

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4. Follow strict social distancing guidelines

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:

  • Maintain a distance of +6 feet from others
  • Stay out of crowded places
  • Work from home if possible
  • Avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe illness
  • Stay home and isolate for 14 days after any travel

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Updated March 31:

In a nutshell, no. The novel coronavirus has spread to more than 100 countries and nearly every continent.

In late March, Hawaii was the first-in-the-nation to institute a quarantine on all visitors and returning residents from the mainland and international destinations. The governor has expanded the mandatory, 14-day quarantine for air travel to include all inter-island passengers as well until April 30.

For Business Travel

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.

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.

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If an employee has recently traveled, here are some things for consideration:

Require the employee to work from home:

You can require the employee to work from home for the duration of the incubation period (14 days) IF you have a reasonable objective belief that an employee may have been exposed to COVID-19 and is a danger to the workplace. 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.

Allow the employee to use their sick time for quarantine:

For an employee who is at-risk of carrying COVID-19, this is a best practice regardless if it is imposed by the government, the employer, or reasonably self-imposed by the employee.

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.

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.

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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.

Updated 3/30/20:

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.

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:

  • 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.
  • 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 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.

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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.

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.

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.

Health & Safety Videos

Prepare! Don't Panic Employers & Coronavirus

This webinar was recorded on March 13, 2020

The objective of this webinar is to provide a high-level overview of the coronavirus and tips on how to protect your workplace and other FAQs. Hosted by Donna Jones, Senior Client HR Trainer & Consultant, ProService Hawaii

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Webinar Handouts (ProService Hawaii)

Timestamps

[0:57] Intro to the Coronavirus
[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 
[38:10] Addressing Fears in the Workplace
[41:10] Overview of the Employer’s Guide

Infection Prevention & Control

This webinar was recorded on March 24, 2020

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, ProService Hawaii.

Resources:

Webinar Handouts (ProService Hawaii)
Sequence for donning protective equipment (PPE) (CDC)
Donning disposable gloves

Timestamps:

[5:47] Cough Etiquette
[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

Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

This webinar was recorded on March 25, 2020

The objective of this webinar is to provide guidelines from OSHA to help prepare workplaces for COVID-19.

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Timestamps

[8:15] Effects in the Workplace
[9:55] Basic Prevention Measures
[12:40] Isolation

[16:37] High Risk Exposure
[17:37] Medium Risk Exposure
[18:26] Low Risk Exposure

COVID-19 Construction Industry

This webinar was recorded on March 31, 2020

The objective of this webinar is to provide COVID-19 guidelines for businesses in the construction industry. Hosted by Jason Propst, Safety Training & Development Specialist.

Timestamps

[1:16] Symptoms
[2:26] Protection
[4:16] Essential and core service exemptions

[5:03] Stay-at-home order exceptions for residents
[5:40] Construction and handling the coronavirus
[6:58] Recommended practices for construction job sites

COVID-19 Agriculture/Farming

This webinar was recorded on March 31, 2020

The objective of this webinar is to provide COVID-19 guidelines for businesses and employees in the farming and agriculture industry. Hosted by Shiloh Cabatingan-DeGuzman, Safety Training & Development Specialist.

Timestamps

[3:12] Symptoms
[4:24] General protection
[6:52] Statewide order to stay home

[10:50] Safety hierarchy
[12:36] Handling COVID-19 for farming/ag industries

Airborne Hazards COVID-19

This webinar was recorded on April 1, 2020

The objective of this webinar is to provide guidelines for protecting employees from COVID-19 and airborne hazards. Hosted by Michelle Perez, Safety Training & Development Specialist.

 

Timestamps

[3:24] Symptoms
[4:29] Protection
[6:35] Statewide order to stay home
[9:24] Safety hierarchy

[11:26] Airborne hazards
[12:09] Face masks
[15:41] Tutorial on face masks

COVID-19 Healthcare Industry

This webinar was recorded on April 6, 2020

The objective of this webinar is to provide guidelines for protecting employees from COVID-19 in the healthcare industry. Hosted by Arielle Michael, Safety Training & Development Specialist.

Timestamps

[2:30] Symptoms
[3:15] Protection
[4:28] Statewide order to stay home
[6:39] Healthcare settings handling COVID-19
[9:18] Safety hierarchy

[11:20] Recommendations for healthcare settings
[16:45] Airborne infection isolation rooms
[17:21] Respirators and face mask
[18:23] When N95 respirators are low

Running A Business In Crisis

Find helpful tips for running a business during a pandemic from
flexible operations, remote work advice, and leadership tools.

Flexible Operations

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 Loan—there are several available options to employers during this pandemic.

Note: ProService Hawaii has outlined several business relief programs that are currently available to employers in our XYZ section.

Resources

SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus (Small Business Administration)

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:

  • Cross-training employees to carry out essential functions so you 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.

Remote Work Tips

The short answer is yes. First and foremost, remember that the CDC is recommending Americans practice “social distancing” to slow the spread of coronavirus. This can help prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed, saving lives. So by having your employees work from home, you’re not only protecting their health, but the safety of our entire community. 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.

Assess employees’ core work & in-person requirements:

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.

Evaluate resources & leverage technology:

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:

  • Desktop or laptop computer
  • Internet access
  • Secure access to applications and data
  • Online communication and collaboration tools like Zoom or GSuite
  • Home phone or cell phone with adequate data
Test your plan & get input:

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.

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.

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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.

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:

Tip #1: Set up your workspace
  • Pick one spot and dedicate it to work
  • Keep everything in one place
  • Stay off the couch
  • Get dressed
Tip #2: Establish hours, breaks & boundaries
  • Create a routine — and stick with it.
  • Set a regular time for lunch and breaks
  • Prioritize tasks and chunk your time
  • When the work day is over, it’s over
Tip #3: Anticipate and plan to deal with distraction
  • Communicate your needs
  • Coordinate schedules
  • Create and reinforce boundaries
  • Use headphones
Tip #4: Take care of yourself physically and mentally
  • Move your body
  • Connect with people
  • Choose your mindset

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.

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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.

Tip #1: Stay connected while remote
  • Pay attention to the quality of your communication
  • Think about when and how often you reach out
  • Strengthen customer relationships
Tip #2: Give clear direction, then let people do their jobs
  • Articulate your expectations
  • Establish clear deliverables
  • Then back off
Tip #3: Run effective meetings
  • Practice using new platforms
  • Set the ground rules
  • Have an agenda
  • Stick to video
Tip #4: Make people feel supported
  • Use emotional intelligence
  • Make sure your staff doesn’t get burned out
  • Ask for feedback

For the full detailed version of our tips, download a free copy of our ebook: Unexpectedly Transitioning to Remote Work.

Running a Business in Crisis Videos

Remote Work

This webinar was recorded on March 26, 2020

The objective of this webinar is to discuss the new world of working remotely. We provide tips and strategies to stay productive and connected with your team. Hosted by: Marissa Page, Learning & Development Specialist, ProService Hawaii.

Resources:

Timestamps

Coming soon…

Relief Programs

Learn about new 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: 

Small Business Loans:
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
Employer Tax Credits:
  • Employee Retention Tax Credit
  • Payroll Tax Deferral
Employee Leave:
  • Family First Coronavirus Response Act 

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.

Resources:

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 Payroll 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.

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The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is an SBA loan option that emerged as a component of the new CARES Act. It 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.

Immediate Advance:

Under the PPP, if you applied for an EIDL you may request an immediate advance of up to $10,000 (within 3 days of request) on the EIDL application. This $10,000, if used for payroll and other business expenses, does not have to be repaid, even if you are denied the EIDL.

Read our latest guide on how the PPP can help employers cover payroll and other operating expenses.

Resources:

Lenders started accepting loan applications on April 3. Because of the expected high demand and funding cap, we encourage you to apply as quickly as you can.

Here’s how to apply :

Step 1: First, familiarize yourself with PPP: Read the PPP Overview and Borrower Information Fact Sheet to see if you might qualify.

Step 2: Start working on your application: You can download the application here. 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.

Step 3: Submit your application: You can apply through any existing SBA lender or FDIC institution. Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020.

If you’re a ProService client, follow these instructions to secure your PPP loan as quickly as possible. We’ve created an expedited process for you with American Savings Bank and Central Pacific Bank to accelerate your loan processing and distribution of funds, whether you currently bank with them or not.

Resources:

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).

About 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 determine if an SBA EIDL is for you:
  • 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 an SBA Disaster Loan.

Resources:

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:
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. For more information:

There are two tax programs you might want to learn more about: 1) Employee retention tax credit, and 2) Payroll tax deferral.

Employee Retention Tax Credit

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:

  • The tax credit is equal to 50 percent of qualified employee wages (including allocable qualified health plan expenses)
  • If you have <100 full-time employees, you can claim credit for wages paid to all employees, up to $10,000
  • If you have >100 full-time employees, you can claim credit for employees furloughed or hours reduced b/c of employer's closure or economic hardship
  • Tax credit is provided through 12/31/20
  • Not available if you have a PPP loan
Payroll Tax Deferral

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:

  • Businesses and non-profit employers are eligible to defer their payroll taxes. If you receive a loan under the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), you cannot take advantage of this program.
  • Payroll taxes that are deferrable include employer portion of FICA, employer and employee representative portion of Railroad Retirement taxes and half of SECA tax liability
  • Deferred taxes are due in two installments: 50% by 12/31/21, and 50% by 12/31/22

For more information, read our guide: The Small Business Guide to Relief Programs for COVID-19

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.

Note:

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

Resources:

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.

Relief Program Videos

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

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.

Timestamps

[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

Save Hawaii Businesses (A Panel Discussion)

Timestamps

[5:40] CARES Basics
[19:00] ASB Expedited Process
[25:50] Advice from SBA
[39:50] Tax relief from CARESve

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.

Panelist:

  • Jane Sawyer, District Director of US Small Business Administration;
  • Darin Leong, Employment Attorney at Law Offices of Darin R. Leong ;
  • Stacy Katakura, President & Founder of Accumulus;
  • Randy Lu, SVP Director of Business Banking, American Savings Bank;

Moderated by Janina Abiles, Director Of HR & Safety Training

CARES Act: Navigating Laws, Loans, and Layoffs

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.

Timestamps

[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

Talk Story with Ed Case & Ben Godsey

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.

Timestamps

Coming Soon…

Navigating Layoffs & Unemployment

Get helpful information on layoffs and unemployment
before making the tough decision to reduce your workforce

Workforce Reduction

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:

  • Voluntary time off, things like voluntary sabbaticals, voluntary unpaid time off, or voluntary paid time off.
  • Involuntary changes, things like cross-training and merging roles, setting overtime limits, reduction in pay/hours, or furloughs.
  • Voluntary departures, things like voluntary retirement or. voluntary separation

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:

  • Create objective criteria
  • Complete analysis for compliance
  • Prepare to provide advance notice
  • Prepare severance plans and other benefits
  • Document the plan
  • Conduct the Layoff Conversation
  • Inform the Workforce of the Layoff

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.

For more details on this sensitive subject, please check out our free ebook: The Boss’s Guide to Reduction in Force.

Resources:

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

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:

  • Full unemployment
  • Partial unemployment

See our other FAQs for more in-depth information.

Resources:

It is up to your employee to apply for benefits, 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:

  • Full unemployment: Your employees will need to know their separation date and reason for separation for full unemployment benefits.
  • Partial unemployment: Your employees will need to know their last date worked and date when they will return to work.
Online application process

Employees can file online here: https://huiclaims.hawaii.gov/#/
They should note that they can only file online during specific times:

  • Monday through Friday (6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. HST)
  • Weekends and Holidays (9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. HST)

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 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.

Note: The State is very strict and each employee must submit and change his or her own application for unemployment, not the employer.

Required documentation

To apply for unemployment, employees will need the following:

  • Social security number
  • Contact info
  • Valid email
  • Dates of employment over the past 18 months
  • Past employer’s names, addresses, and phone numbers
  • Reason for separation
  • Direct deposit info (account type, account and routing number). In the state of Hawaii, having a direct deposit account is required to get paid
Unemployment support

If they need assistance, the DOL has provided these phone numbers for assistance (as of 4/7):

  • HUI Password Reset: (833) 901-2272
  • Unemployment Phone Appointments: (833) 901-2275

For more in-depth information about the unemployment process for your employees, please read our Unemployment FAQs for Employees.

Resources:

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.

Resources:

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.

Eligibility

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.
Benefits

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:

  • 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

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.

Resources:

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.

Eligibility

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.

Benefits

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.

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.

Resources:

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.

Resources:

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.

Resources:

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

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

Resources:

Unemployment Videos

Introduction to Reduction in Force

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.

Timestamps

[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

Employee Guidance on Applying for Unemployment

This webinar was recorded on March 20

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 byJanina Abiles, Director of HR & Safety Training at ProService Hawaii.

Timestamps

[0:22] What is unemployment?
[1:20] Qualifications for unemployment

[6:44] How to register online
[13:14] How to apply for unemployment benefits

Employer Guidance on Unemployment

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.

Timestamps

[1:59] What is unemployment?
[2:51] Qualification for unemployment
[8:10] Partial unemployment
[10:25] Full unemployment
[12:05] Full vs partial unemployment

[13:06] FFCRA
[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

Caring For Our Community

Find local programs and services that are providing community support during this crisis.

Aloha United Way 211 is Hawaii’s only comprehensive, statewide community information and referral service. It is free and confidential.

Give them a call today. 211 specialists help you find food, shelter, financial assistance, child care, parenting support, elderly care, disability services, job training and much more.

Or, you may also do a direct search of the service categories in their online database, available online 24/7.

Hours of operation: Monday – Friday from 7:00 am – 5:00 pm

Resources: 

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