How to Keep Up to Date on Changing COVID Regulations Impacting Your Business
Running a business in the COVID-era can be a juggling act of keeping up to date on the latest regulations. What regulations apply to you? Are you compliant? What has changed? There are multiple sources for regulations related to COVID, coming from federal, state, and local levels. Changes can happen at a moment’s notice.
It’s enough to make your head spin. We’re all learning. It’s even a learning experience for HR professionals, who are well-versed in employment law scenarios. But typical HR reference points don’t fully apply here as none of us have been through anything quite like COVID. We’re all learning together as COVID regulations and guidance change daily, even hourly.
So, what do we do? We start by monitoring guidance and regulations from across the business spectrum. Here’s a sampling of what we monitor, and you should, too.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a page for workplaces and businesses to “plan, prepare and respond” to COVID scenarios through detailed guidelines for employers, workers, the essential services sector, and even specific industries. As the nation’s public health protection agency, the CDC’s guidelines are the gold standard in COVID guidance.
While not a regulatory body, the World Health Organization (WHO) publishes technical guidance on COVID-19 segmented by country. If you have operations in other countries, it’s a good resource.
Every state issues its own COVID-related guidelines. For example, in Ohio, the Department of Health publishes this Businesses/Employer COVID-19 checklist.
Within states, counties and cities can also issue their own specific guidelines. For example, in August 2020 the city of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County mandated masks while surrounding cities had not.
Back on the national level, there are many valuable resources available:
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) produced Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.
- The S. Small Business Administration offers COVID-19 Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce publishes a playbook for small businesses.
- The S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission created What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.
- The S. Department of Labor offers online resources on workplace safety; wages, hours and leave; and unemployment insurance.
- Under the auspices of the Department of Labor is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which “requires certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.” Its current provisions are effective through December 31, 2020.
And you’re no doubt familiar with the Paycheck Protection Program established by the CARES Act. The most recent update to the program was a Loan Forgiveness Fact Sheet published in October 2020. We’re waiting to see if and when the Paycheck Protection Program may be extended.
So that’s a lot to keep up with. Businesses with a presence in multiple states or internationally have to be aware of guidelines specific to those areas, too. And your individual industry may offer specific guidance as well.
With all that in mind, your business should designate someone internally to update policies and practices as COVID-19 guidelines evolve. It’s important to put forth a good-faith effort to comply with any applicable government standards and guidance currently in effect. But even for business owners paying close attention to the latest changes, the practical applications of these guidelines and regulations can be difficult, with many gray areas. Here at ConnectedHR, our expert team is here to help navigate those gray areas.