As developments surrounding COVID-19 continue to escalate daily, concerns beyond our personal health and safety have quickly emerged. The virus has already made a significant impact on the global economy, altering the way businesses operate, as well as potentially seismic shifts in consumer activity.
To address issues critical to businesses and their employees, Bulkley Richardson has launched a COVID-19 Response Team comprised of seasoned attorneys in the areas of business, finance, employment, schools, health care and cybersecurity. In this time of great uncertainty, businesses are seeking legal counsel to help navigate this fluid landscape and prepare as we enter a period of uncertainty and rapid change.
Bulkley Richardson understand that each business will be affected differently and that taking proactive measures may help to minimize the risk of business interruptions. Our COVID-19 Response Team has prepared an initial catalog of issues to be considered by each business owner or manager. In the upcoming days, we will be expanding on this list and providing further detailed guidance. If you have specific questions, please contact a member of the COVID-19 Response Team or call 413-272-6200.
- Ryan Barry (Business/Banking and Finance/School, Colleges and Universities/Health Care)
- Kathleen Bernardo (Real Estate)
- Mark Cress (Business/Banking and Finance)
- Scott Foster (Business)
- Judge John Greaney (Strategy)
- Mary Jo Kennedy (Employment)
- Jodi Miller (Health Care/Litigation)
- Lauren Ostberg (Cybersecurity)
- Jeffrey Poindexter (Litigation)
- Judge Mary-Lou Rup (ADR/Litigation)
- Elizabeth Sillin (Trusts and Estates)
- Sarah Willey (Business/Employment)
- Christopher St. Martin (Litigation/Employment/Teleservices)
- How will you and your employees comply with new stringent health guidelines?
- With schools being closed for an extended period, how will your employees address childcare needs?
- How do you respond to an employee’s request to self-quarantine?
- What if an employee has potentially been exposed to the virus or has a confirmed case of COVID-19? Can you forbid that employee from coming to work? If you do, are you required to provide paid time off?
- What are your responsibilities as an employer to keep your employees safe from exposure to COVID-19 from your other employees or even your customers?
- What can an employer tell employees about their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace?
- Are you frequently monitoring local and Massachusetts Department of Public Health and CDC websites for updates?
- Does the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act under FFCRA apply to you as an employer or employee?
- Have you considered the privacy, security and other issues posed by employees working remotely?
- Can you allow/demand that certain employees work from home while expecting others to come to work?
- What are the practical alternatives to holding classes, meetings and events?
Banking and Finance:
- Have you explored and taken advantage of the various programs available businesses affected by the crisis including disaster grants, forgivable loans and other forms of financial assistance?
- What steps should you consider if your customers indicate they will be unable to pay for your services or products?
- What availability do you have under current financing facilities? Are these tied to any requirements to maintain A/R or inventory levels?
- Have you called your banker or landlord to talk about how COVID-19 may affect your business?
- Have you reviewed the force majeure provisions in your contracts (both supplier and customer)?
- If you are unable to meet your contractual obligations to others, how can you avoid further liability?
- Are you contractually required to inform your customers in advance of any potential for disruption in your ability to perform?
- Are losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak covered under business interruption or other types of insurance? If so, when do you need to notify your insurance agent and how do you file a claim?
- Is your business classified as essential in Massachusetts; other states in which you operate?
- If your business is nonessential, what steps can you take to avoid shutting down completely?
- Have you advised employees to be aware of an increase in phishing or other cyber crimes?
- Are certain personnel critical to maintaining your cybersecurity protocols? Do you have sufficient back up if those employees are absent from work for an extended period?
Trusts and Estates:
- Have you reviewed your health care proxy? Have you prepared an updated list of medications, allergies, names of current physicians, and a copy of your insurance card in the event you require hospitalization?
- Do you and your loved ones have an estate plan in place – at a minimum, a will, durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and HIPAA authorization? If it was done a long time ago, does it still meet your needs? If you do have an estate plan in place, do you know where your current documents are located (as well as those of your loved ones)?
- Have you checked to make sure that the beneficiary designations on your IRAs, qualified plans, and life insurance policies reflect your wishes?
- If you have minor children or incapacitated family members, do you have guardians and conservators named for them in your will?
- Are you making gifts of stock to family members? Lower stock values means that you may be able to make a gift of more shares than you could have a few months ago. This would hold true for gifts of closely-held business interests as well.
- If you are administering an estate and have to pay Massachusetts or federal estate tax, have you considered the “alternate valuation date” of six months from date of death for assets that may have lost value, which will lower the estate tax liability?
- Estate Planning and COVID-19 Concerns
- COVID-19: Critical Business Issues to Consider
- Federal and State Authorities Relax Rules for Telehealth During COVID-19 Outbreak
- Changes in Federal & State Employment Laws as a Result of COVID-19
- Bulkley Richardson Advises Businesses on Keeping Workers Paid and Employed
- Unemployment Compensation for Independent Contractors and Sole Proprietors
- Small Business Relief Is on the Way – Be Prepared
- Businesses Suffering Interruptions Due to COVID-19 Need to Check Insurance Coverage Now
- COVID-19 May Make Remote Notarization A Reality In Massachusetts
- New Rule Changes Regarding Governance of MA Non-Profit Corporations
- USPTO Extends Deadlines Due to COVID-19
- Cybersecurity in Remote Work Environments
- Massachusetts Enacts Temporary Moratorium on Foreclosures and Some Evictions
- Health Care Facilities and Professionals Legal Immunity During Covid-19 State of Emergency
- Online Dispute Resolution in the Wake of COVID-19 – and Beyond
- What’s the Difference Between a Layoff and a Furlough?
- Governor Baker Signs Remote Video Notarization Bill
- Confused About How to Use PPP Funds? Here Are Some Answers
- Advice for Businesses on Insurance Claims During COVID-19
- Calling Back Laid-off and Furloughed Workers (Part 1)
- Calling Back Laid-off and Furloughed Workers (Part 2)
- Interpreting New Guidance from the SBA
- Fears About Returning to Work as Restrictions Are Lifted – WWLP Mass Appeal Interview
- Advice for Business on Insurance Claims During Downturn – WWLP Mass Appeal Interview
- Keeping Employees Safe and Complying with Safety Mandates When Returning to Work (Part 3)
- Are You the Victim of an Unemployment Filing Scam?
- Plan for When Employees Become Ill with COVID-19 and How to Safely Return Them to the Workforce
- Beware of Unemployment Scams – WWLP Mass Appeal Interview
- Financially-Distressed Customers? How to minimize impacts on your business.