COVID-19 Guidance for Employers, Workers, and Businesses

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak is an unprecedented economic event. With significant disruptions to businesses across virtually all industries, impacts of the outbreak are inevitable. The disruption to our local, national, and global economies will be temporary and transitory, and businesses must put contingency plans in place now to mitigate the impact and prepare for recovery.

Businesses will need to triage essentials such as incident management and stakeholder communications, while making sure that the safety and well-being of workers affected remains top priority. While it is too early to fully understand the severity of this crisis and its long-term implications, there are several steps businesses can take now to help improve the situation.

The City of Fremont Economic Development Department has assembled suggestions and resources for our businesses community to help lessen the pandemic’s negative effects on your business and your employees. We will continue to update our messages related to funding and technical assistance resources as they become available.


FINANCIAL RESOURCES

There are many national, state, and local financial aid resources available to both businesses and employees alike, including loans, funding, and extensions on payroll taxes.

  • In an effort to provide relief to our businesses, City of Fremont will waive penalties and interest on late payments for business tax certificates during COVID-19 closure. This applies to any business tax certificate that expired on December 31, 2019 and were due for renewal by February 29, 2020, and will continue for business tax certificates expiring on March 31, 2020 and up for renewal on April 30, 2020. With this initiative, City of Fremont hopes to ease some burden on our businesses that most need the support during this difficult time. City of Fremont’s Revenue Department will be sending out notices to affected businesses. Details below:
    • The City will waive penalties and interest on late business tax payments for business tax certificates that expired on December 31, 2019, and were due for renewal by February 29, 2020.
    • Businesses that have already paid penalties and interest on late renewal payments with a due date of February 29, 2020, will receive a credit to their business tax account for the penalties and interest amount paid for this period.
    • This waiver of penalties and interest will continue for business tax certificates expiring on March 31, 2020, which are due for renewal by April 30, 2020, and will be in effect until further notice.
  • The House-passed Emergency Coronavirus Bill will provide significant relief to small businesses. Listen to the National Town Hall to find out what the stimulus package means for your business, featuring experts from U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business consultants and professionals that will discuss the $367 billion program for small businesses. Sample topics covered include SBA loans, CARES Act, Unemployment Insurance benefits, and small business tips.
  • The Small Business Administration is now offering Disaster Assistance Loans to businesses in designated states and territories affected by COVID-19. This program is now open for applications. Information on qualification and the application process can be found on this online portal.
  • A State-level loan program for disasters is available through the California IBank’s Small Business Finance Center.
  • California’s Employment Development Department has programs to help both employers and employees deal with the costs of illness, caring for ill family members, shorter hours, and closures. Employers can also request an extension on their payroll reports and payroll taxes.
  • The waiting period for State Unemployment & Disability Insurance is waived for affected workers. More information can be found at the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency’s website.
  • The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GoBiz) has compiled additional resources and FAQs for businesses.
  • Organizations and companies are also stepping up to help local businesses:
    • Kiva US is offering small business applicants expanded loan sizes, now up to $15,000 with accompanying grace periods between 1 to 6 months.
    • Intuit QuickBooks is teaming up with GoFundMe to create a Small Business Relief Initiative to help small businesses raise money to overcome challenges related to COVID-19. Small businesses can now create a fundraiser on the GoFundMe platform where can share their story with the public and request financial support to help cover business and employee-related expenses. Intuit will provide funds that will go directly to small businesses as part of the relief initiative.
    • Facebook launched Facebook Boost, a small business grant program that offers $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to help small businesses affected by COVID-19.
    • Google is donating $340 million in free ads to businesses with active Google ad accounts.


TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

Resource partners listed below will be available for technical assistance, including preparing loan paperwork for financial programs, business advice, and workshops.


LABOR AND WORKFORCE POLICIES

Employers should implement workforce policies that reduce the spread of COVID-19 by following the best practices listed below and utilizing additional national and local resources as needed.

  • As stated above, the House-passed Emergency Coronavirus Bill will provide significant relief to small businesses that cannot afford the employee costs associated with COVID-19. The bill provides a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement for coronavirus-related sick leave costs including paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave.
  • The Alameda County Workforce Development Board can help employers with the Rapid Response (RR) program which is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor under the Dislocated Worker Program of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). RR is dedicated to averting layoffs and reemployment after layoffs. It serves two customers — employers and their workforce — by offering early intervention services to employers who are facing downsizing or layoffs, as well as reemployment solutions to employers and their workforce who have been impacted by permanent layoffs or office closures. Some of the services may include customized workshops, training, up-skilling, retooling, certifications, or skill matching.
  • Employers should:
    • Implement policies and practices to increase the physical distance between employees and between employees and the public (e.g., telecommuting and teleconferencing).
    • Establish lines of communication among employees, clients, and business partners.
    • Research ways to further protect employees based on the industry or operations.
    • Consider the impacts from local school closures on those in your workforce who have children.
    • Recognize employees who are well, but may be taking care of ill family members even if they are working remotely.
  • For more information on the benefits employees impacted by COVID-19 are entitled to, please check the chart below or visit the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency Coronavirus webpage.


REMOTE WORKFORCE TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS

At this time, due to the Shelter In Place Order issued by the County Health Officer on March 16, 2020, it is required that all non-essential businesses (i.e., businesses not offering healthcare services, emergency first responder services, utility, or food services, etc.) close their offices and offer employees remote work-from-home options, if possible. Businesses can find available technology services and best practices to aid them below.


TIPS FOR GLOBAL MANUFACTURERS

Fremont is home to many manufacturers that rely on local and global supply chains. There are actions that global manufacturers can take to assess and respond to critical operations such as pursuing alternative sourcing strategies and communicating with key stakeholders on change in supply and demand volumes. PwC shared some excellent recommendations that global manufacturers can follow now which include:

  • Transporting available inventory to areas away from quarantine zones and near ports where it can be accessed for shipping.
  • Securing capacity and delivery status for Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers, and securing allocated supplies and overtime assembly capacity where possible.
  • Buying ahead to procure inventory and raw material that are in short supply in impacted areas.
  • Securing future air transportation as supply and capacity become available, shortening what might otherwise be ocean freight-based lead times.
  • Activating pre-approved parts or raw-material substitutions in places where the primary supplier is impacted, but a secondary supplier is not.
  • Activating product redesign or material certification resources where reliable second sources of parts or raw material are not already available.
  • Updating customers about delays and adjusting customer allocations to optimize profits on near-term revenue or to meet contractual terms.
  • Shaping demand by, for example, offering a discount on available inventory in cases where supply may be short for late winter to early spring.
  • Introducing new products previously destined for China into other plants.
  • Assess mid-term implications.


BUSINESS RESILIENCY

Below are some best practices to keep your business running and minimize problems:

  • Develop a business continuity and crisis management plan.
  • Create a dedicated crisis management team.
  • Identify your most important business functions and adjust staffing to maintain them.
  • Keep track of and respond to changes in customer behavior, and prepare to change how you do things to maintain your most important operations.
  • Identify key business functions, jobs/roles, and elements in your supply chain, and think about how to operate if these are impacted by the pandemic.
  • For businesses with multiple locations, allow local managers to act on what is happening locally.
  • Collaborate both internally and externally.
  • Craft a stakeholder communications strategy.

 


STAYING INFORMED

The City of Fremont has announced a local emergency, meaning there is a high risk of illness to the local population. Your business can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and lessen the number of people infected by following guidance from public health officials. Information is changing frequently. Please stay informed.. 

  • Check the City of Fremont website for information on guidance for workplaces, travel, schools, high risk populations, and gatherings.
  • Updates are also available through social media on the City’s Facebook and Twitter channels.