By: Cherylyn Harley LeBon

The global pandemic has inflicted worldwide losses on several different levels. The economic costs threaten to impact nearly every type of business and have significant long-lasting consequences. How can you put your business, your employees, and your company in the best possible position during these uncertain times? As the post-Covid-19 legal landscape fluctuates, it has become essential to identify potential pitfalls for your business so that you can discuss your options with, and receive guidance from, subject-matter experts. If your business has been impacted by Covid-19, hiring a knowledgeable attorney who is experienced in this area can be beneficial in helping you come up with a plan for success.

State and Federal Resources

A by-product of the government’s response to the pandemic is a complicated web of rules that vary by county and by state. Local, state, and federal government assistance is available for a variety of businesses and organizations if you know how to properly access it. Your business may be eligible for a Small Business Association Economic Injury Disaster Relief Loan (EIDL) or the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Both federal options are available for various corporate structures. However, businesses must not only qualify but determine which program, if any, best meets their unique needs. The Biden Administration might start its tenure by modifying or enhancing the federal programs, while states continue to make different options available to businesses. In Alabama, for example, the legislature approved state tax exemptions; the New Mexico Senate Finance Committee is discussing an extension of relief to small businesses; and California launched a new round of aid to businesses.

Employment Issues and Policies

Businesses will continue to face evolving employment law issues. In many instances, a solid and well-written company policy can effectively insulate a business against loss. The terms of any employee policy must be beneficial to unique business needs but are also impacted by these changes. In the post-Covid-19 environment, businesses are well-advised to revise their paid sick leave and telecommuting policies since prudent drafting might prevent litigation. Many states require paid sick leave, while other states have passed temporary paid leave requirements specific to the pandemic. These Covid-19-specific laws interact with other federal laws like the ADA, which can impact your policies on documenting illness, confidentiality, and medical testing. Additional considerations include the Fair Labor Standards Act, which impacts hazard pay, overtime, and unpaid internships. Hiring an attorney experienced in this area can help guide you through challenges that arise.

Evolving Legal Challenges

Some specific Covid-19 regulations, including federal paid sick leave requirements, have already expired, while newer guidelines are being released. OSHA recently released stronger guidance to businesses for Covid-19 safety protocols, including ways to develop and implement a coronavirus prevention plan. Meanwhile, state legislatures are debating legal shields for business responses to the pandemic. The manner by which your business utilizes these regulations must be tailored to your specific needs and interests, which might change rapidly.

Security/Privacy Issues

As companies expand their use of telecommuting and cloud-based technologies, they also may expand their risks of cybersecurity breaches. Instead of one office with a standard security protocol, many companies rely on antivirus software downloaded by employees or hope that each employee can protect his or her laptop passwords. Company policies on unsecured wi-fi usage, document sharing, open printer ports, and other related topics can protect against such breaches, but only if they are responsive to our current climate. Even something as benign as a government Covid-19 app can expose your network to security breaches, so being proactive about these matters is crucial.

Tax Consequences

The tax implications of the pandemic are also complicated. The IRS recently released a notice that employers may have to resubmit 1099 forms if they reported Covid-19 relief SBA loans as income. The IRS has issued eight separate IRS notices, many related to Covid-19 guidance. Additionally, IRS guidance on tax credits for small and midsize businesses providing paid leave was updated, payroll tax deferral was extended, and temporary relief was offered to employers using the vehicle lease valuation rule for employees who use employer vehicles for personal purposes. How many changes will occur between today and when you file your taxes?

In these times of uncertainty, you listen to experts to protect your health. Accordingly, subject matter experts can also protect the health of your business in the areas discussed in this blog and many more. A proactive response to these issues can help you reach positive outcomes, no matter what the future holds.

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About the Author

Cherylyn LeBon HeadshotCherylyn Harley LeBon is a partner at Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig in the Corporate and Government Contracting Departments.

Cherylyn’s practice areas cover corporate, government contracting, and nonprofit organizations. Her clients benefit from her 20+ years of experience in Washington, D.C., and abroad, including time as a high-ranking official at the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Department of Veterans Affairs, and as Senior Counsel on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Cherylyn is a problem solver who helps her clients develop creative and workable solutions to a broad range of matters. She regularly counsels companies on entity formation and structure, risk management, due diligence matters, and corporate governance.

To learn how Ms. Harley LeBon can assist you with your legal needs, click here.

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Posted in: Business Law

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