COVID-19 Resources & Tips

Protect your Employer Brand and

Help Employees Navigate Furlough or Lay off with Compassion

Employees are by far the most important resource to any business. They are the lifeblood of your organization. They are friends and family away from home, with whom we spend 260 days out of the year. As business executives we care greatly for their well-being.  In times of crisis like a coronavirus pandemic, we have a strong urge to find any way we can to help them.

This document is a broad guide to the resources that businesses and their employees will need to access to survive, financially or otherwise. I hope this helps!

There is much noise on this topic out there, so I have created this live document that I will update as new vital information emerges.  I encourage everyone to offer any connections or direct resources that they find helpful. The news does not help connect people to the resources and tools they need to actually find help to survive this crisis.  This resource is created to connect real people to real resources, and to the actual tools without all of the spam, clickbait and nonsense. I hope these resources will help you be informed with the most up to date information possible.

Our lives have all been changed dramatically.  This is a time for compassion and people coming together to help each other. Most of the people who will see this document first are company executives.  Having to lay off or furlough people is the most painful business decision.  Many industries are having to immediately adapt in the worst possible way.  This is going to trickle down into all business sectors, there are going to be layoffs and furloughs across the board.

If we can help our people find the resources they need, they are more likely to return to help businesses get back up and running when the time comes – and it will come – this will not last forever.  

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Resources for Businesses


U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Corona Virus and Covid-19 Emergency Loan Resources

There is still not a ton of information available regarding this aid opportunity. The challenge with SBA loans is that you may need to ride out your losses for a while before applying in order for you to be ineligible for the highest maximum benefit.  I strongly recommend every business owner start this process, complete the applications now, be first in line, and begin gathering information needed to defend your claim.

Here is the direct link to the SBA website, the only reputable source for this loan

And click here for the link to directly apply for the loan.

Also, here is an update from March 17, 2020, on new SBA criteria for states to request disaster assistance loans specifically for small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus:  Coronavirus Financial Help for Small Businesses. It is possible that over the coming days we will see more state and local governments step in to also support small businesses using the criteria summarized below:

The Small Business Administration issued revised criteria for states or territories seeking an economic injury declaration related to Coronavirus (COVID-19).  The relaxed criteria will have two immediate impacts:

The process for states seeking SBA disaster assistance will become more streamlined and therefore will allow more states and territories to qualify. Historically, the SBA has required that any state or territory impacted by a disaster provide documentation certifying that at least five small businesses have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of a disaster, with at least one business located in each declared county/parish. Under the newly released revised criteria, states or territories are required to prove only that five small businesses within the entire state/territory have suffered substantial economic injury, not that there has been at least one small business per county/parish.
Statewide access to SBA disaster assistance loans for small businesses has been greatly expanded. SBA disaster assistance loans are typically available only to small businesses within counties that a governor has identified as “disaster areas.” Under the revised criteria, disaster assistance loans will be available across an entire state, following an economic injury declaration. This will apply to current and future disaster assistance declarations related to coronavirus.

For additional information, please visit the SBA disaster assistance website.

Facebook Grant Offering

So far, Facebook is not offering a ton of information on this resource, but they are beginning to extend a helping hand to those business owners looking to find ways to retain their workers, help employees keep their health benefits, and create remote working environments that are both healthy and productive. Facebook grants are intended to back up small businesses and make sure that those businesses in turn can back up and support their critical (and loved!) workers. I encourage you to sign up for their newsletter and future communications, which will help us support our workers soon.  Keep your workforce going strong

  • Help with your rent costs
  • Connect with more customers
  • Cover operational costs



Resources for Laid Off Workers


Out of all of the companies within the United States, small businesses are the ones who are most likely going to have to make extremely difficult choices in light of this new virus.

Below is comprehensive information your people will need to get connected quickly with federal, state, and local government aid programs that have been expanded to support increased need. This information covers tax credits/deferments, current legislation that has already been passed or is working its way through Congress, paid sick leave, unemployment benefits, food assistance, furloughing, layoffs, loaning out employees, and more.

My unprecedented recommendation: if you have to lay people off, come prepared with a full suite of information to help your people connect to the resources they need. Don’t provide them with these resources the day or the week after you have to let them go. Bring them a compassionate message, along with the tools they will need. If you have the internal resources, have someone on your team be the liaison to help guide people through these processes. It’s okay to tell your employees that you don’t have all the answers right now, but that you want to go through this process with them together. Don’t just hand everyone a packet and wish them luck, offer them continued support indefinitely.

Please share this live document too, so we can all benefit from what you are learning in real-time. We’re all in this together.

Tax Credits and Tax Payment Deferrals


Click here for everything related to tax credits and tax payment deferrals. It is consistently updated.

Delayed filing info:

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak. The filing deadline for tax returns remains April 15, 2020. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who can’t file by the April 15, 2020 deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request a six-month extension to file their return.

Federal Government Covid-19 / Corona Virus Resources:


Live Updates on Current Congressional Bills:

This section will provide critical information in real-time regarding legislation to help our workers and our businesses that the House of Representatives and Senate are passing today and every day. I strongly encourage you to read these bills daily until you are out of the woods, and to reach out to your Senators and Representatives to advocate for additional relief for your business and your employees. Staying up to date on these relief packages will allow you to be first in line to access these benefits, which will significantly ease the pain of this crisis. Here are links for contacting your Senators and contacting your Representatives.


Recently Passed Legislation – these bills are now LAW

Main takeaways from the above bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

  • The government is establishing a fund to provide paid sick leave for folks quarantined/isolated due to exposure or infection of Covid-19, for folks who are exhibiting symptoms but have yet to receive a medical diagnosis because of the testing shortage, for folks taking care of someone infected with Covid-19, or parents taking care of children whose schools have been closed to slow the spread of Covid-19.

*Note on this bullet point: there is currently legislation being drafted by the Senate that would scale this sick pay back a bit. Senators are in negotiations about what changes might look like.

  • Health insurance companies are not allowed to charge a fee for coronavirus testing.
  • Food assistance programs will be expanded. One of the programs receiving the most expansion will be food assistance for the elderly. Also, work requirements that normally apply to people receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits are temporarily suspended.
  • Unemployment benefit programs are also being expanded, including grants given to states to expedite the process of granting and processing unemployment claims.

Upcoming Legislative Actions

Here is the link to view all upcoming legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives

For business owners, in particular, several pieces of upcoming legislation may be the most interesting:

Summaries and the actual text of the bills are unavailable (as of 3/20) because most of them were only just introduced on 3/19 but keep checking back for updates. I will provide bullet point breakdowns, similar to the above explanation for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as soon as summaries become available.

You may also want to let your (older) employees know that there is another piece of legislation being considered that looks like it might expand food assistance even further – H.R. 6313 – To provide for additional emergency nutrition assistance under the Older Americans Act of 1965 in fiscal year 2020 to respond to the declared COVID-19 public health emergency, and another bill specifically for helping older folks (and people with disabilities: H.R.6305 – To assist older Americans and people with disabilities affected by COVID-19. Again, no summaries at this time (3/20), but keep checking back.

State-by-State Resources on Paid Sick Leave

Many states, as well as the federal government, are offering short term family paid leave benefits for those who are sick, laid off, and/or furloughed. These benefits can be equivalent to a few weeks of near full compensation. Hopefully, the impact of this virus will blow over quickly, and these benefits will offer quick options for your employees to receive an amount close to their full pay, which will help them weather this storm in the short term:

Federal and State EXPANDED Unemployment Benefits

Here is a comprehensive list of all state and federal unemployment options, which will really help for employees who may be furloughed or unemployed in the long term. I would encourage you to select the programs in your area and get your people connected to them BEFORE their last day of work, or, at a minimum, when you have to break the news:

Whether you are furloughing your employees or laying them off entirely, encourage them to apply for unemployment insurance. Laws vary by state, particularly concerning whether or not furloughed workers are eligible. Here is a U.S. Department of Labor link to find information about filing for unemployment insurance in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Additional Unemployment Resources:

Because the outbreak of Covid-19 has been declared a national public health emergency, the Department of Labor is making $100 million available in Dislocated Worker Grants. See this link for the full press release. States and territories must apply for these grants, so reach out to your state labor office (contact info linked above) to see if those avenues are being pursued where your business is located. In addition, states can also become eligible for Employment Recovery grants if one of their employers has to lay off 50 or more people, or if there are “significant layoffs that significantly increase unemployment in a given community.” And let’s be honest, that criteria is probably going to apply to just about everywhere at this point. Employment Recovery grants provide training resources to re-integrate employees back into the workforce once jobs become available again.

Food Assistance Programs:

$1,200 CASH Payment Proposal

There have been conversations among some members of Congress about giving a $1,200 check to every American to help them through this crisis. The White House, Congress, and the U.S. Treasury are figuring out the exact logistics of what this payment proposal may look like. So far, there are no credible references regarding if this proposal is moving forward, or any specifics about disbursement, so anyone with any information on this, please keep us posted.




Other Creative Solutions for Companies


Keep Health Benefits Intact

Some companies are continuing to pay employee health insurance premiums in full. Go above and beyond and make sure they have NO out of pocket expenses. Health care is a necessary human need, so health care support can go a long way to helping your employees and saving them the additional cost of trying to stay insured while receiving no income.  It will also help with anxiety related to the health crisis.

Temporary or Partial Pay Reductions

Your highest paid employees are more likely to be able to withstand a small or even a significant pay reduction, which could then free up cash for your other employees. Even your lower-paid employees could potentially take a temporary partial pay reduction. This could really go a long way to extending your cash reserves and is one way to survive this substantial reduction in business revenue.

Offer Ownership or Equity in the Company in Exchange for Pay

If there is no work, and no money to pay wages, the best thing to do is stay busy and stay on the offensive in looking for opportunities where the business can make money.  Offering employees, a share of ownership or equity in the company in exchange for a price is one way to keep your business moving and slow cash burn.  Some businesses can create creative revenue streams that you have never had time to focus on before. This situation is a great opportunity to finally take time to work on that project you have always wanted to get off the ground. Then, when this crisis is over, your business is prepared to hit the ground running with a new product or service.

Loan Your Workforce to Another Business

If you have business connections who may need help getting something done, and are less affected by the virus, make a deal with them to loan out your people. For example, a team of marketers, salespeople, or recruiters can help another business ramp up quickly.

Freelance Work

Another option is to encourage your employees to seek out freelance work, and to connect them to agencies who can help them learn how to make money based on skills they already have. is one of the most popular and reputable freelance platforms.  Web developers, graphic designers, writers, accountants, and experts in marketing, customer service, and admin support are always the most in demand within the freelance market.





General Guidelines

Should you find yourself in the difficult position of laying off or furloughing employees, I am including some resources that you may find helpful.

These are all the steps and resources you might use to better plan your layoffs.


Difference Between a Furlough and a Lay-off


There are pros/cons to both lay-offs and furloughs, and decisions to move forward with either option should be considered carefully.


Furlough – a furlough is a temporary, unpaid, forced leave from work for a specific amount of time. Employees who have been furloughed still have jobs, but they are not currently working or being paid.

Lay-off – a lay-off is a reduction in force, where employees are let go from their position and not guaranteed they will be recalled to the position. Employees no longer have jobs and are not working or receiving compensation.

Partial furloughs (hours reduction)

A creative solution I have heard about were partial furloughs (basically equal to a reduction in hours, but not ending an employee’s work entirely) and offsetting an employee’s lost hours with unemployment benefits.  In this situation, your employees can be eligible for emergency unemployment benefits and still receive pay from the company.

Even with a plan to partially furlough employees, your people are still going to be dealing with a significant wage cut. They will need resources for handling the sudden reduction in take-home pay. The United States Office of Personnel Management deals with these situations often, due to frequent government shutdowns that lead to a lapse in funding for employee pay.



Sample Letters to Creditors/Bankers

If your employees have any debt, (even a mortgage), their ability to repay their debts is going to be drastically impacted by their reduction in pay. Several international governments have ordered a temporary suspension of mortgage payment collections until the Covid-19 crisis is over. While some individual U.S. states have ordered that banks and landlords may not evict mortgage holders and tenants for now, there is no current indication that the U.S. government is going to follow in other countries footsteps and cease mortgage payments. Even if they did, that would not help employees who may have credit card debt, auto loans, or other forms of debt they need to pay down monthly. If an employee sends a letter to landlords, mortgage companies, banks, and other creditors explaining the sudden change in their financial situation, creditors are often flexible and can make allowances for employees in the short term.

Employees who have been furloughed are encouraged to speak with their creditors before sending a formal letter, but the letter serves as a follow-up in writing that the employee is trying to be proactive about their debt situation.  The federal government recommends employees keep a copy of the letter for themselves, and also send the letter via certified mail if possible.


Examples of letters:

Letter to a creditor:

Dear (Name of Company or individual with whom you have spoken)

This is to confirm our conversation of (date) in which we discussed a temporary reduction in my monthly payment.

As we discussed, I am a Federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency.  Because of this, my income has been severely cut and I am unable to pay the entire cost of my monthly payments, along with my other expenses.

As we had agreed in our conversation, I will be able to make regular payments in the amount of $_______.  I realize that I will be responsible to pay the remainder of the payments and, when I return to work, I will contact you immediately to work out a plan to take care of the reduced payments.  I will also keep in touch with you to keep you informed about my income status.

I appreciate your willingness to work with me and your understanding during this difficult time.




Account Number




Telephone Number


Letter to a mortgage company:

Dear (Name of Company or individual with whom you have spoken)

This is to confirm our conversation of (date) in which we discussed a temporary reduction in my mortgage payment.

As we discussed, I am a Federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency.  Because of this, my income has been severely cut and I am unable to pay the entire cost of my mortgage, along with my other expenses.

As we had agreed in our conversation, I will be able to make regular payments in the amount of $_______.  I realize that I will be responsible to pay the remainder of the payments and, when I return to work, I will contact you immediately to work out a plan to take care of the reduced payments.  I will also keep in touch with you to keep you informed about my income status.

I appreciate your willingness to work with me and your understanding during this difficult time.




Account Number




Telephone Number



Checklist for Preparing for Lay offs


Example:  Checklist with things to consider


Here is a comprehensive contact list of the labor offices in all 50 states. Officials in these offices will be able to talk you through the termination process to ensure you are in full compliance and provide you with any necessary paperwork/forms you may need.

WARN Act Considerations (for employers with 100 or more employees):

Here is the link to the full WARN Act.  If you have more than 100 employees, and you have to lay off at least 33% of them, the WARN Act requires you to notify both the employees themselves, and the State (or designated representative of the State, see labor offices listed above). This notification typically is required 60 days in advance of the layoff, although the act does make provisions for “natural disasters,” which I am assuming this coronavirus crisis would fall under. In those cases, an employer must give “as much notice as is practicable.” Honestly, in these circumstances, it is just a best business practice to give your employees as much notice as possible. Be transparent, tell them what you know even if what you know doesn’t seem like much. This virus is changing our lives on a daily basis, but giving your employees as much notice as possible will allow them to best plan for themselves and their families. And will make them want to come back and work for you again in the future.

*Note: the WARN Act defines being laid off not only as an employee losing their job, but also as an employee being required to reduce their hours by more than 50% for six months. Obviously at this point we have no idea how long this situation is going to last, but if it does drag out for six months, be aware that even partially furloughing your employees may require you to give them adequate notice, if the furlough results in 50% fewer working hours.


More COVID-19 Resources

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