**Last updated on April 1, 2020
During days like these with so many unknowns and unreliable information floating around the internet, it can feel next to impossible to find solutions and resources available to small businesses. Munro-Delotto Law, LLC has compiled the following information in an effort to help small businesses find the resources they need to stay afloat in this period of uncertainty. As part of your Rhode Island and Connecticut communities, we’re here to help.
*This post discusses some federal assistance available to small businesses in the U.S., but it is primarily geared toward Rhode Island businesses. See the blog post directly below for Connecticut resources. A post geared toward Massachusetts businesses is forthcoming.
Munro-Delotto Law, LLC is combining information from several sources, some with new and evolving laws, so we will do our best to summarize the laws accurately as applied to COVID-19. However, the information provided is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for competent legal advice. We reserve the right to modify, update, and do not warranty the information provided.
Federal Help for Businesses
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced it is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Rhode Island small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
For more information: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on SBA disaster assistance.
Currently, the federal government is looking into a combination of loans, direct checks (individual economic stimulus package), and liquidity for small businesses. Deferment of IRS payments is also a possibility, where small businesses may be able to defer up to $10 million in taxes. For the most up to date information on this, check with your accountant or tax attorney. Additionally, the Trump Administration is reviewing actions daily to aid businesses in recovery to mitigate the impact and financial losses. We are hopeful for more information to come, and will keep this page updated with the latest federal developments.
Business helping businesses: Microsoft is offering Microsoft 365, specifically the E1 Trial license, available at a reduced fee or free for businesses for six months. Microsoft is making this E1 Trial license available in response to the increased need for employees to work from home in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. To learn what’s available with an E1 license, visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/business/office-365-enterprise-e1-business-software?rtc=1&activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab. Microsoft regularly updates and answers most frequently asked questions about this offer here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/faq-support-remote-workforce.
In addition, Cox Communications and Verizon are both offering relief for residential and small business customers in response to COVID-19. To learn more about Cox Communications’ program, visit https://cc1d0ced-f6cd-4b0f-b40f-b3800c378993.filesusr.com/ugd/b28b67_d8daaa27e4704dbba62f0b1d5f122101.pdf. You can find out more information on Verizon’s relief here: https://cc1d0ced-f6cd-4b0f-b40f-b3800c378993.filesusr.com/ugd/b28b67_368f35ba4d804bc59976f907577f2ed4.pdf.
State-based Resources for Rhode Island Businesses
In addition to federal resources, Rhode Island is working to provide its own to businesses within the state. The U.S. Small Business Administration, in conjunction with RI Commerce Corporation, is providing disaster relief funding to aid in business recovery and mitigate revenue loss. Governor Raimondo’s disaster declaration request was also approved for the state, making low-interest loans available for small businesses. For more information on the application process, business owners can call the SBA or 401-521-help.
Health and government officials are working together to maintain the safety, security, and health of all Rhode Islanders. For the latest information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) please visit the official page of the Rhode Island Department of Health. People with general questions about COVID-19 should call 401-222-8022. If you are dialing after business hours, please call 211.
Effective Friday, March 20, Governor Raimondo signed an executive order allowing restaurants to sell takeout beer and wine with food orders. The order was effective immediately and is currently in place until March 30. The executive order allows local restaurants to sell up to two bottles of wine or 144 ounces of beer in their original, sealed containers. According to the RI Hospitality Association, restaurants cannot deliver alcohol to customers.
A second executive order, also effective as of March 20, was signed by the Governor in response to feedback from the RI Police Chief’s Association regarding the current strain on their resources and the increase of gun sales within the state. The order increases the current time period of seven days for police departments to conduct background checks for firearm purchases to 30 days.
As of Wednesday, March 18, the RI Public Utilities Commission has directed all electric, gas, water, and wastewater utilities regulated by the RIPUC to temporarily stop certain collections activities, including service terminations for nonpayment. The moratorium extends to 4/15/2020 for residential customers and 3/31/2020 for all other customers, with the RIPUC revisiting the necessity of a continued moratorium prior to its expiration. Billing will continue to occur as scheduled.
In addition to the above resources, the RIABR (RI Alliance for Business Resilience) is a fantastic resource for industry leaders in the state. https://www.riabr.org.
Rhode Island Paid Medical/Sick Leave
Required paid sick leave: consult the (federal) Family Medical Leave Act (as amended by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed in March 2020 – see below) and the state specific Rhode Island Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act (“RI HSFWA”), RIGL § 28-57-1 et seq.
Our current understanding of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a federal law (not Connecticut-specific) is as follows:
TIME WORKING TO QUALIFY: An employee who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days. Note that this is a much lower threshold than the 12 month/1,250 hour tenure requirement that otherwise applies to FMLA leave.
SIZE OF BUSINESS TO QUALIFY: Private employers with fewer than 500 employees, and most public employers. For smaller employers, this bill could introduce FMLA coverage to their workplace. It is unclear if there are exclusions for emergency responders and/or businesses with less than 50 employees where the requirements would jeopardize that business as a going concern. Traditional FMLA did not apply unless 50 or more employees – Munro-Delotto Law, LLC will continue looking into this exclusion.
QUALIFYING CONDITIONS FOR PAID SICK LEAVE: – paid leave seems to only cover COVID-19-related actual medical or caregiver leave BUT covers every employee caring for a child of the age needing care if school/childcare are unavailable. Munro-Delotto Law, LLC will be verifying this.
The Act requires emergency sick leave for employees who cannot work for any of the following reasons:
A. The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
B. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
C. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
D. The employee is caring for an individual who is either (1) subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or (2) has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
E. The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions;
F. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
REQUIRES JOB PROTECTION: The FMLA’s job restoration requirements generally apply, with limited flexibility for employers with fewer than 25 employees – 25 employees and more require job restoration.
REQUIRES PAID FAMILY LEAVE AFTER AN INITIAL 10 DAYS PAID SICK LEAVE: Paid Leave Requirement: Unlike FMLA leave under the 1992 Act, this act provides for paid leave for various durations for each of the new qualifying conditions. In more detail:
The first 10 days of leave are paid sick leave. This is paid at 100% of regular hourly rate or salary for the duration where the qualifying condition is (A), (B), or (C) above and at two-thirds of regular hourly rate or salary for the duration where qualifying condition is (D), (E), or (F).
After 10 days of sick leave have been taken, the employer must provide paid family leave for an additional 10 weeks for qualifying conditions (including children being out of school – see duration below). Paid family leave is paid at two-thirds an employee’s regular rate of pay for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be normally scheduled to work. Subject to the specific conditions of forthcoming Treasury Department regulations, 100% of the emergency FMLA and paid sick leave wages may be reimbursed via payroll tax credits. Munro-Delotto Law, LLC is looking into the specifics.
PAYRATES: Sick pay is 100% of regular hourly rate or salary for the duration where the qualifying condition is (A), (B), or (C) above and two-thirds of regular hourly rate or salary for the duration where qualifying condition is (D), (E), or (F).Family leave is two-thirds normal rate. Tipped workers is likely minimum wage.
For leave reasons (A), (B), or (C): employees taking leave shall be paid at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).
For leave reasons (D) or (F): employees taking leave shall be paid at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).
For leave reason (E): employees taking leave shall be paid at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate (over a 12-week period—two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave).
Part Time: Part-time workers are paid the amount they typically earn in a two-week period.
Duration of Leave
For reasons (A)-(D) and (F): A full-time employee is eligible for up to 80 hours of leave, and a part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period.
For reason (E): A full-time employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave at 40 hours a week, and a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.
No Carryover: Emergency paid sick time provided by the Act does not carry over from one year to the next.
No Payout at Termination: Paid sick time not used at the time of an employee’s termination, resignation, or retirement does not need to be paid out to the employee.
May be Used Before Other Paid Leave: Employers may not require an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer to the employee before the employee uses paid sick time provided for by the Act.
Expanded Definition of family members to include: foster, adoptive, step, parent of domestic partner, parental in-laws, guardians, and those who stood in loco parentis.
Effective Date: The Act takes effect not later than 15 days after the date the Act is enacted.
Sunset: The paid family leave requirement expires on December 31, 2020.
Part Time: Part-time workers are paid the amount they typically earn in a two-week period.
For business owners and those Self-employed (Applies to all US states): According to the New York Times, people who are self-employed or otherwise own a small business can also receive paid leave, assuming they pay taxes. According to the New York Times, self-employed people should calculate their average daily self-employment income for the year, then claim the amount they take as a tax credit (they can reduce their estimated quarterly tax payments in the meantime). Check with your accountant however as our accountant could not yet confirm this development.
Details on the Rhode Island HSFWA Law, which has been in place since before the COVID-19 outbreak, are as follows:
What: Allows certain employees in Rhode Island to accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick and safe leave time for every thirty-five (35) hours worked up to a maximum of forty (40) hours per year.
Acceptable uses of time:
(1) An employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; an employee’s need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; an employee’s need for preventive medical care;
(2) Care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; care of a family member who needs preventive medical care;
(3) Closure of the employee’s place of business by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or an employee’s need to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency, or care for oneself or a family member when it has been determined by the health authorities having jurisdiction or by a health care provider that the employee’s or family member’s presence in the community may jeopardize the health of others because of their exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the employee or family member has actually contracted the communicable disease; or
(4) Time off needed when the employee or a member of the employee’s family is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Qualifying employers: All employees employed by an employer of eighteen (18) or more employees.
Qualifying employees/exemptions: All employees (exempt and non-exempts) in qualifying employers except not municipal workers, not nurses on per diem (if conditions are met) and not construction if employees are under a CBA and conditions are met.
Businesses with 17 or less employees: Same rules of accrual and use but leave is unpaid.
Accrual and Use: Accrual starts first day but use can have waiting periods applied by company.
Carry-over: Carry over from year to year allowable but employee stops accruing once at the max of 40 hours and max on use per year of 40 hours.
Payout at Separation: Employers is not required to pay out unused balances at separation.
Anti-retaliation provisions: Do not retaliate or discriminate based on use.
Rhode Island Parental & Family Medical Leave Act: (State “FMLA”): This is unpaid leave with job protection and anti-retaliation provisions; this state law largely duplicates federal FMLA, but has different qualification and allows for additional weeks of benefits.
Eligible Employers: Requires that employers of 50 or more employees grant an unpaid leave of absence, upon the request of an eligible employee.
Employees Eligible: Employees are eligible to apply for leave if they are full-time employees who work an average of 30 hours a week or more and have been employed continuously for at least 12 months.
Purpose of Leave: The leave required to be provided under the Act must be for one or more of the following reasons:
1. Birth of a child of an employee.
2. Placement of a child 16 years of age or less with an employee in connection with the adoption of such child by the employees.
3. “Serious illness” of the employee or the employee’s parent, spouse, child, mother-in-law, or father-in-law. (Serious Illness is defined to mean a disabling physical or mental illness, injury, impairment or condition that involves in-patient care in a hospital, nursing home, or hospice, or out-patient care requiring continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider).
Length of Leave: For 13 consecutive weeks in any two calendar years, under certain conditions.
Anti-retaliation provisions: Do not retaliate or discriminate based on use.
Unemployment, TDI, & TCI Information for Employers
General Unemployment Information: Employees who have lost their jobs or had their hours cut due to the COVID-19 outbreak are eligible for unemployment benefits, including teachers affected by school closures.
To apply for unemployment insurance, visit https://dltweb.dlt.ri.gov/UIClaims2013/intro/index.aspx?AC=yes and for more information about filing, visit http://www.dlt.ri.gov/ui/fileclaim2.htm. You can also do this over the phone by contacting the DLT at (401) 243-9100 to file a new claim or refile your claim during normal business hours.
DLT will waive the seven-day waiting period for UI claims related to COVID-19. Employees must note that their unemployment claim is due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
General requests for assistance can be made by emailing email@example.com or calling (401) 462-2020.
Employees with More Than One Job
It is not clear, but unlikely, that unemployment will cover the additional lost income due to the lost of one job but not the other when the employee has more than one job.
Tipped employees are eligible for unemployment benefits and will receive benefits based on any wages they have claimed for taxation purposes.
Tipped employees are eligible for unemployment based on total amount of wages claimed. When filling out the unemployment form, they should claim their hourly base wage, however, DLT will calculate their benefit amount based on all wages claimed.
In limited circumstances, business owners may also be eligible for benefits.
Employees directly impacted by COVID-19 no longer must be actively searching for work to qualify for unemployment assistance (and thus no requirement they are immediately employable such as if sick, assumedly). May not be charged back to employer’s insurance due to state of emergency
TDI & TCI: Filing & General Information
TDI is available for anyone self quarantining or that is sick from COVID-19 .
For more information about TDI please visit http://www.dlt.ri.gov/tdi/tdifaqs.htm. You can apply here: https://dltweb.dlt.ri.gov/TDIReserve/Home.
• Be sure to clearly indicate on your application that you have been impacted by COVID-19.
• For COVID-19 related claims, DLT will waive the seven-day minimum amount of time that claimants must be out of work to qualify for TDI/TCI benefits.
• For individuals under quarantine, DLT will waive the required medical certification, and instead will allow them to temporary qualify via self-attestation that they were under quarantine due to COVID-19.
Benefits may be available for you to care for yourself or a family member that has been impacted through Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI). Apply at www.dlt.ri.gov.
For questions on temporary disability insurance (TDI), unemployment insurance (UI), and other benefits, please review the COVID-19 Workplace Fact Sheet found at the link above. Requests for assistance can also be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (401) 462-2020. They are intended to provide support to people regarding COVID-19 and employment issues. The phone line is staffed Monday to Friday during business hours.
DLT Information for Employers
If you are temporarily ceasing or limiting operations as a result of COVID-19, please contact the Department of Labor and Training to discuss how it can provide assistance. DLT stands ready to assist with questions about Unemployment Insurance, Paid Sick and Safe Leave or other programs and resources available. (SEE BELOW FOR FULL, UPDATED INFORMATION ON THE RI WorkShare PROGRAM as of April 1, 2020)
Requests for assistance can be made by emailing email@example.com or calling (401) 462-2020. Please be sure to provide your business’ name, a point of contact, telephone number and email address. A DLT team member will respond to inquiries in the order they are received.
[April 1, 2020 Update] *What is WorkShare?
The Rhode Island WorkShare program, administered by the Department of Labor and Training, allows for employers with two or more employees to keep the employer’s workforce in place during a temporary layoff situation; WorkShare allows employers to reduce work hours of a large group of employees as opposed to laying off employees, thereby risking losing valued employees permanently to other employment opportunities. Employees whose hours and wages are reduced would be eligible to receive a portion of their regular unemployment insurance benefits to compensate for the lost wages. Note that employers that have shut down operations completely are not eligible for the WorkShare program; the program compensates employees for a reduction in hours only. WorkShare claimants are able to collect up to fifty percent (50%) of their weekly benefit rate. The average weekly UI payment is about $368 (you can see the DLT’s payment calculation chart here: http://www.dlt.ri.gov/ui/pdfs/WorkShare/SharedWorkPaymentCalc.pdf). Assuming that a worker regularly worked a forty (40) hour week and their hours have been reduced to twenty (20) hours, a worker earning the average payment would receive about $184 in WorkShare benefits and half of their regular weekly compensation from their employer.
Interested employers must apply for the WorkShare program by faxing a completed DLT application (found here: http://www.dlt.ri.gov/ui/pdfs/WorkShare/WSApplicationPkt.pdf) to 401-462-8506; employers will receive a response from the DLT within 48 hours. Any employees who currently work for the employer submitting the WorkShare application and who would normally be eligible to receive regular unemployment insurance benefits in Rhode Island are eligible to receive WorkShare.
Employers facing downturns work with the DLT to establish a WorkShare plan, which articulates the amount of the work reduction (in hours), which units will be impacted, and information about the affected employees. Employers must continue to provide the same fringe benefits or must reduce all of their employees’ benefits by the same amount, but employers can have their entire operation participate or dictate which specific units, shifts or departments will participate in the program. Per RIGL §28-44-69, the amount of work hours may be reduced from 10%-50%. If workers are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, their union must approve the WorkShare plan prior to implementation. For non-union workplaces, employers must establish that they have informed each of the affected employees about the plan prior to implementation. In the event that no work is performed during a week when an employer is on WorkShare, covered employees would receive a full week of UI benefits in lieu of their WorkShare benefits. Benefit costs are charged to employers in the same manner as they are with regular UI.
The DLT provides additional information on this program in its one-pager, found here: http://www.dlt.ri.gov/ui/pdfs/WorkShare%20COVID19%20One-Pager.pdf
For more information on WorkShare, visit www.dlt.ri.gov/ui/ws.htm.
Private Insurance Information for Employers
Private business interruption insurance: A business interruption insurance policy should list or describe the types of events it covers. Events that are not described in the policy are typically not covered. You should determine if the policy requires your business interruption to last for a certain time period before you are entitled to any policy benefits.
Business interruption coverage typically can only be triggered if you have property loss that leads to the business interruption. One example could be that a fire in your office has caused you to suspend your business activities. Because coverage varies across policies, you will need to read your particular policy and consult your broker or insurer or its agent for more information. Also consider checking with a contract litigation attorney to read the contract to see if this unique circumstance might be argued to be within coverage. Lack of case law (since we have never dealt with a pandemic) means there is always a chance. If you do not carry this insurance there may be coverage under another insurance policy such as part of a Business Owners Policy.
Force Majeure Events and Clauses:
If you have contractual obligations to vendors or third-party contractors, review contracts for force majeure clauses.
A force majeure event refers to the occurrence of an event which is outside the reasonable control of a party and which prevents that party from performing its obligations under a contract. English common law has no general concept of force majeure (save for the limited doctrine of contractual frustration, which is addressed below). A party’s ability to claim relief for a force majeure event therefore depends upon the terms of the contract, and the force majeure provision in particular. Force majeure provisions are express terms and will not ordinarily be implied into contracts governed by English law. A party affected by such an event of force majeure will typically be relieved from performing the obligation affected for the duration and to the extent affected and may be entitled to compensation.
As with all matters dependent upon the terms of the contract, each force majeure provision must necessarily be considered on its precise terms and in its specific context.
Events Capable of Constituting Force Majeure:
The “test” for force majeure usually requires the satisfaction of three distinct criteria:
1. the event must be beyond the reasonable control of the affected party;
2. the affected party’s ability to perform its obligations under the contract must have been prevented, impeded or hindered by the event; and
3. the affected party must have taken all reasonable steps to seek to avoid or mitigate the event or its consequences.
Many contractual provisions set out a specific list of force majeure events which are deemed to be events of force majeure beyond the control of the parties, such as “pandemics,” “epidemics” or “diseases.” A specific reference to a “pandemic” will make it easier to bring a force majeure claim but will still require the other criteria for a force majeure test to be satisfied.
However, if the provision does not include language to that effect, then it will be necessary to consider whether COVID-19, or its impact on a business or a project, is captured by a different concept, such as an “Act of God,” “action by government” or a catch-all provision. Most force majeure provisions contain “catch-all” language in respect of events which are “outside the reasonable control of the party affected”. It seems fairly clear that a pandemic such as COVID-19 would qualify as force majeure under such a provision.
Additional Assistance for Staff and Individuals
Health insurance special enrollment period:
A special enrollment period for Rhode Islanders without health insurance is now available through April 15th, 2020, to qualified individuals who are uninsured. Visit HealthSourceRI.com to enroll, or call customer support or use our web chat function between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday at 1-855-840-4774.
For anyone who is concerned that they need to be tested for coronavirus — or anyone who is seeking care because of coronavirus exposure — coverage will start retroactively.
Moratorium on evictions:
On March 17, 2020, Chief Justice Paul Suttell issued Executive Order 2020-4. The Executive Order provides, among other things, that non-emergency matters in Rhode Island courts will not be heard until after April 17, 2020. This includes evictions. There is an exception in the Executive Order for emergency situations, which can include matters involving violence or other safety risks. If an eviction case can fairly be characterized as an “emergency,” it may still go forward. The Executive Order does not prohibit a landlord from sending out required notices (such as rent demands) or from giving you a complaint that has been filed. The Executive Order simply means the case will not go forward until after April 17, 2020. The Executive Order does extend filing deadlines for 30 days. This means if your landlord files an eviction with the court before April 17 you will have additional time to file your response when the courts reopen.
Even though new eviction cases are temporarily halted, sometimes landlords try to evict people without going to court. Evictions without a court order are still illegal.
Moratorium on some foreclosures:
On March 18, 2020, the Federal Housing Finance Agency directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions on single-family homes for at least 60 days. The precise details of this directive are not yet clear. If you are having trouble paying your mortgage (or any bills) contact the company you owe money to so you can find out whether they have a forbearance policy. The sooner you do that, the better.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 11 Federal Home Loan Banks. These government-sponsored enterprises provide more than $6.3 trillion in funding for the U.S. mortgage markets and financial institutions. Additional information is available at www.FHFA.gov, on Twitter, @FHFA, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Relevant Tax Information*
*Please note that Munro-Delotto Law does not employ a tax attorney; the following is additional information for businesses to look into with their own accountant or tax attorney.
FEDERAL Business Tax Filing / Payment Deadlines:
FEDRAL FILING DEADLINE CHANGED to JULY 15, 2020
U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance allowing all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. The guidance also allows corporate taxpayers a similar deferment of up to $10 million of federal income tax payments that would be due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest.
TAX FILING DEADLINE NOW July 15 for filing deadline AND payments. Quarterly payments to DOL due by April 30, 2020 may be extended.
State-specific modifications: The state’s April income tax filing deadline will be pushed back to July 15 to align with the IRS’ newly extended federal tax deadline, Raimondo confirmed Friday.
Municipal Tax Extensions: So far, Warwick, Cranston, and Newport have apparently extended municipal tax deadlines for residents and businesses. Many municipalities are in the process of granting extensions. Other municipalities may follow suit. Smithfield has extended the deadlines for property tax payments from March 31 to April 30.
Policies NOT modified: The Governor announced did not offer sales tax extension to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and it was due March 20, 2020. If you need an extension, we recommend that you contact the RI Department of Taxation at 401-574-8955. You should also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. There may be an opportunity to limited relief.
Business Continuity Planning for Employers
• Identify staff members who can accurately assess how your company functions, both internally and externally.
• Determine which employees, materials, procedures and equipment are essential to keep the business operating and which functions are critical to survival and recovery.
• Include emergency payroll, expedited financial decision making and accounting systems to track and document costs in the event of an unexpected business incident and assign each task to a manager who will be responsible for that function for the duration of the event.
• Establish procedures for succession of management including at least one person who is not at the company headquarters, if possible.
• Practice worst case scenario planning- it is very possible someone from your leadership team will be unavailable; plan for contingency if that person serves a critical role.
• Decide which employees will be involved in pulling together your emergency business plan. Include co-workers from all levels in your organization as active members of the emergency management team; don’t overlook interns and new employees-they may recognize a vital function that could be overlooked. Consider a broad cross-section of employees but focus on employees with expertise vital to daily business functions.
Communications and Emergency Planning for Employees: Your employees are your most valuable asset. Open lines of communication are essential before, during and after any incident. Include preparedness information and virus updates in newsletters, on company intranet, periodic employee emails and other internal communications tools. Consider setting up a password-protected page on the company website, an email alert or a call-in voice recording to communicate with employees throughout the incident. Designate an 800-number or conference line that can be used to communicate in the event of a quarantine with designated call times and personnel.
Detail how your organization plans to communicate with employees, local authorities (identify point of contact for emergency services and first responders), customers and others for the duration of the event. Give employees information on how you will communicate when and how to report to work following the incident.
It is also important to communicate with local, state and federal authorities what emergency assistance is needed for you to continue essential business activity. If you are able to provide assistance to the community, communicate with officials and first responders what your company is prepared to do to help in the recovery effort.
Check with your IT provider to ensure key employees have the right tools to work remotely:
- VPN Access (to access server)
- Printer/Scanner/Fax or e-Fax
- Keyboard and mouse
Other state and federal links:
• City of Providence, COVID-19 Information (http://www.providenceri.gov/pema/faqs-covid-19/)
• COVID-19 Global Cases Map (https://www.coronavirusworldnews.com/map/)
• World Health Organization Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019)
We will be updating this information as the crisis continues (or as we think of more relevant information to compile) so please feel free to let us know that you would like this ongoing information.
Paige Munro-Delotto Ph.D., Esq.
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