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Practical Guidance for Employers Handling the Coronavirus

We know there is a lot of information (and misinformation) out there about the Coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, and how to handle the HR challenges that it is causing in the workplace. Our goal is to provide you with guidance on how to handle this as an employer — practical solutions for the impact the Coronavirus may have on your business.

We will continue to update this guidance as news changes, and in response to questions we receive from our members. Please bookmark this page to keep up-to-date on the latest HR guidance.

Federal Coronavirus Relief & Legislative Guidance

Federal Coronavirus Relief & Legislative Guidance

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Guidance and FAQ

The federal government has officially passed emergency legislation in response to the National Emergency created by an outbreak of coronavirus/COVID-19.

The bill was signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020 and will take effect  on April 1, 2020.

You can read additional guidance and answers to specific questions in this post: Families First Coronavirus Response Act Guidance and FAQ.

Here’s a brief synopsis of some important points:

      • The law is not effective until April 1st and the Department of Labor will not be enforcing the law for 30 days after it is effective — with some exceptions.



      • Employees who have been temporarily furloughed due to an office closure or lack of work are not entitled to paid leave benefits under this law — they should seek unemployment benefits.


      • The legislation only applies to certain coronavirus related absences; not to lack of work due to business closure.


      • Available benefits include:
        • Up to 12 weeks of paid Family Medical Leave for those caring for a child who is home from school. 
        • 2 weeks of Paid Sick Time for those diagnosed with or quarantined as a result of coronavirus.
        • Tax credits for employers paying emergency benefits


      • The law applies to all US employers with fewer than 500 employees.


      • Only specific employees who are sick/quarantined, caring for a sick/quarantined family member or a child whose school is closed are eligible for paid time off under the law. All other employees who experience lack of work due to the virus are eligible for unemployment, but not employer-sponsored paid time off under this law.


      • Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption from some of the requirements under the law.


    • Certain Healthcare provider and emergency response employees may be exempted from paid sick leave requirements.

Employers will be required to provide notice to employees about this law.


Read More Families First Coronavirus Response Act Guidance and FAQ

Get regular updates on this and other topics at

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CARES Act: SBA Loans and the Paycheck Protection Program

The federal government has passed the ‘third phase’ of emergency legislation, called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), in response to the present outbreak of coronavirus/COVID-19. 

That 880-page piece of legislation includes information on available SBA loans for employers, what those funds can and cannot be used for, as well as the forgivability of those loans.

CEDR Solutions is not able to offer guidance to employers on the subject of small business loans, so you will need to work with your CPA or bank to determine your business’ best course of action with respect to the CARES Act.

Still, we’ve provided a brief summary of the legislation and how it applies to your business on our blog.

Click Here to Read the CARES Act/PPP Loan Blog


Unemployment Eligibility Drastically Expanded Under the CARES Act

The federal government has extended the availability of unemployment benefits to cover many individuals who would not otherwise have coverage during the current pandemic. This includes coverage for parents who have to take care of children, coverage for the self-employed, coverage for individuals who have yet to start a new job, and more. Read the full blog for details.

Click Here to Read About Expanded Unemployment Benefits

What Other Resources and Benefits are Available for Employers and Employees Affected by the Coronavirus?

Unemployment Benefits

The federal government has greatly expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act for employees who have been impacted by COVID-19. 

We recommend checking your state department of labor websites for more information, and generally encouraging your employees to seek out those resources in the event that a situation calls for employee leave, a reduction in work hours, or a temporary closure of your business.

Paid Family Leave

If your state has any type of a paid family or medical leave program, it’s likely that employees can receive benefits from that program if they or a family member is ill or quarantined due to the coronavirus.

Office Closures, Staff Furloughs, & Layoffs

Staff Furlough/Layoff Template Letter & Final Pay Guide

Employers everywhere are facing difficult decisions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on their offices. Many have decided (or are being required) to entirely cease operations for an unknown period of time. For most offices, this will necessitate the layoff of most or all of their staff.

We know that keeping your team calm and informed is the most important thing. To that end, we’ve created a template letter that you can send to your team informing them about the closure of your office. The template serves as a guide when it comes to covering all of the bases and concerns that your employees may have, so read the entire letter carefully and fill in a few key pieces of information (in red font) to ensure it’s accurate and complete before distributing it.

If implementing layoffs in order to facilitate a temporary office closure, be aware that the laws governing how you must issue an employee’s final paycheck vary by state. We’ve also provided a link to our new ‘Final Pay Guide’ below, which includes information on how PTO should be handled in all 50 states.

Click Here to Download The Office Staff Furlough/Layoff Template Letter

Click Here to Download The Final Pay Guide for All 50 States

What if the office needs to close?

We certainly hope you don’t need to close your office. But if you don’t have enough healthy staff members to come in, or your patients are cancelling all their appointments, or your office has been exposed to the coronavirus, this is certainly a possibility.

If feasible and practical, employees should be authorized to work from home. Obviously healthcare providers can’t see patients this way, but at minimum you may have administrative tasks such as billing, insurance, and fielding phone calls, that can be set up remotely for a period of time. If your employees do not have experience working from home, then this will take some preparation. For this reason, we would recommend creating a remote work plan now that takes into consideration things like supplies (e.g. number of company laptops, forwarding phone calls), systems security, and a list of duties that can be performed remotely.

Having a work-from-home option also helps employees continue to have an income during a full or partial office closure. Pay your non-exempt employees for any time they spend performing work from home or going into the office to complete tasks (someone may need to pick up the mail). Your exempt employees must be paid in full for any days on which they perform work.

If the office is closed and employees are not working from home, their first question will be, “Are you going to pay us?” As usual you can make their sick/vacation/PTO time available for use. And, depending on your financial situation, it may not be a bad idea to provide some additional paid days during this type of unexpected office closure. At the very least, make sure to comply with any written office closure policy you may have.

Legally you do not need to pay a non-exempt employee when they are not working. So issuing any pay beyond accrued PTO is entirely up to you. When it comes to your exempt employees, if you are closing for part of a week you need to pay their full salary for that week. If it is a full, week-long closure, exempt employees do not need to be paid.

We encourage you to inform your staff that they can file for unemployment during a temporary work closure. There’s often concern from employers about their unemployment taxes going up from employees collecting benefits. Remember that this is insurance that you already pay for, and if there were a situation where employees should be able to get benefits from insurance this is certainly it.

If you are a CEDR member, we can help prepare a letter to give to employees that explains the office closure, including the details of your remote work policy.

We recommend you set up two types of communication plans to handle Coronavirus issues as they arise. One type is for what happens if lots of your employees end up home, whether working or sick, and the other one is to deal with the day-to-day issue of the saga which is being created by this unique pandemic.

In this guidance we frequently mention the option of having employees work from home. We understand that the vast majority of our members and readers provide face to face services. All of the talk about sending people home to work is not going to work for many employers. Ultimately, you may have to find a balance and come up with what works best for your business and team. Not everyone will get sick. Of those who may get sick, not all will get sick at the same time.

Not a CEDR Member?

Get additional guidance and updates in our private Facebook Group

Am I required to close my office due to this pandemic?


We always should defer to Federal and state guidance during times like these, so this depends on where you are located. 


This video from our Solution Center manager discusses the liability around staying open.


This video articulates the Pros/Cons of layoff versus a closure/reduction-in-hours.

Is there liability if I choose to keep my business open?

Check out this video from our Solution Center Manager, Grace, that addresses this commonly asked question.

What’s the difference between a layoff and a furlough?

There are a lot of explanations on what these terms mean, and not a lot of consistency. So, we recommend focusing on what you intend to do, and ensure that is made as clear as possible to your team regardless of the terminology being used. 

The one area where we are seeing the terminology potentially making a big difference is in continuation of health benefits. If you are reducing hours or temporarily closing but want to continue health benefits, we highly recommend contacting your health plan administrator about your options. Ideally your team would be able to stay on their health insurance, especially considering we’re experiencing a health pandemic, but how that can work really depends on the details of your plan.

If I close my office and my employees are not working, I can’t afford to pay everyone’s full salaries. Can I pay them a reduced rate?

We had a CEDR member pose this question, and we think it’s a great idea. Having to shut down your business for a period of time is a financial strain for you, but it’s also a very serious financial issue for your staff who has to pay their rent, buy food, and support their families. It would be amazing if you could continue to pay everyone’s full salaries during an office closure, but we know that isn’t feasible for many companies particularly if it’s an extended period of time.

Since the employees are not actually working, you aren’t obligated to pay wages so the normal rules about rates of pay don’t apply. You could pay everyone for their normal number of workweek hours but at a reduced rate of pay. Alternatively, you could issue a set amount to everyone as a per diem or stipend to help them pay their bills.

What happens to health insurance if I am closed?

This video, created by our Solution Center Manager, Grace, gives great insight regarding what happens to health insurance if exploring these options between paying out PTO, laying off employees entirely or just temporarily reducing hours: 

Watch the “What Happens to Insurance if I Close” Video

We recommend asking your health plan administrator about this. Ideally, your team would be able to stay on their health insurance, especially considering we’re experiencing a health pandemic, but how that can work really depends on the details of your plan.

If Your Employees Are Still Working

Table of Contents

If an employee is sick, can I send him/her home?

If an employee is objectively showing signs of being sick – flu symptoms, bad cold symptoms, coronavirus symptoms, or other – you are able to send them home so that they don’t pose a health risk to the rest of your team or other visitors to the office. Most employers encourage their teams to stay home if they are unwell, but don’t necessarily require it unless it appears to be a severe illness. With heightened health concerns right now, it’s OK to become much more strict about this.

Most employers also have some type of policy in their employee handbook about the employee getting a doctor’s note releasing them to work if they’ve been out for a certain amount of time. If your state, city, or county has a mandated sick leave rule, it likely has a restriction about when you can ask for a doctor’s note so be sure to follow those laws.

You can’t require that an employee disclose their medical diagnosis to you, but you can require that they have a healthcare provider confirm in writing that they are able to return to work, or confirming that they are unable to work for a period of time, or that they have specific work restrictions. We recommend getting that documentation if you have concerns about someone’s health.

How do I pay my salaried employees who are working during my business slowdown?

If you have salaried employees who are working but have reduced hours, then your pay obligation depends on whether they are exempt or nonexempt.

If they are exempt salaried employees (typically a high level manager, not eligible for OT), then they need to be paid their full regular salary if they perform any work during a workweek when you are closed. However if you know that hours will be significantly reduced for some time, you can move them into non-exempt hourly status. Download a free Template ‘Exempt-to-Non-Exempt’ Letter.

If they are salaried but still non-exempt (clock hours, get OT), then you are only legally obligated to pay them for hours actually worked so you can also switch them to hourly or prorate their salaries. Download a free Template ‘Salary-to-Hourly- Letter.

If employees are working, should I have them sign something where they acknowledge there is a risk of exposure, and waive any liability against me?

We have received several requests from our members for an employee consent or waiver form for employees who are continuing to work in the office during this pandemic. It is our position that that type of document is not a great idea, could create liability, and is ineffective. We are not providing this form to anyone, but we are seeing that there are some floating out there coming from other sources. 

Here is a video explanation on this topic from Grace Godlasky, our Solution Center Manager.

Though we have a heightened issue in our workplaces, we would advise you not to depart from the basics when it comes to a safe workplace. Here’s why:

  1. An employee cannot waive their rights to a safe workplace. It is your responsibility to keep them safe.
  2. An employee cannot release you from liability under employment laws or OSHA regulations.
  3. A consent form may be used later to imply that employees are less safe in the workplace than they are in the general population. Or it could send a signal that you are not able to understand or follow CDC guidelines and were aware of this fact in advance.
  4. A consent form may also imply that employees are not entitled to file a claim for worker’s compensation or file an OSHA complaint — both of which are protected activity under public policy. 

We believe that, as long as you are following your professional association and CDC guidelines, and you are not performing procedures outside of those guidelines, your worker’s compensation insurance is your best protection.

We also encourage you to remind your employees each and every day of the CDC guidelines, go over protocols for seeing emergency patients, and document that you did so.

Can I take my employees’ temperatures to make sure they don’t have a fever while working?

At this time, yes. Normally this is not permitted under the ADA, but when there’s a pandemic the ADA will defer to CDC guidance. The CDC is now recommending monitoring the temperature of healthcare professionals.

Can we ask our employees questions about whether or not they are practicing social distancing, working at other places where they are exposed to COVID-19, or ask if their spouse is working in an occupation where they might be exposed?

We know as we receive more information that the impact of social distancing is very important to stop the curve. Instead of directly asking employees these questions (which could inadvertently appear to be stigmatizing or possibly retaliatory), we recommend letting staff know in general that taking precautions is important to you. 

If they believe they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, are feeling sick, or are in a position where their family member might have been exposed, to let you know immediately. Consider offering those employees leave, if requested. Here is guidance from the CDC for business owners.

Can I require an employee to stay home if they’re sick?

Yes, you can require employees to stay home if they are sick. You can also request that they get a doctor’s note giving the clear for them to return to work. But be aware that many urgent care and primary care offices are overwhelmed with patients right now, so this may delay things further. Click here for additional guidance from the CDC.

Can I require an employee to get a doctor’s note to come back to work after being sick?

If they have any symptoms of illness you could request that they get a doctor’s note giving the clear for them to return to work. But be aware that many urgent care and primary care offices are overwhelmed with patients right now, so this may delay things further. Click here for additional guidance from the CDC.

Can I make someone get tested for coronavirus?

We do not recommend that you require an employee to get tested, as (at least for now) it seems very difficult to access a test. However, if they have any symptoms of illness you could request that they get a doctor’s note giving the clear for them to return to work. But be aware that many urgent care and primary care offices are overwhelmed with patients right now, so this may delay things further. Click here for additional guidance from the CDC.

Get regular updates on this and other topics at

hr base camp!

What should I do if an employee, patient, or vendor tests positive or is awaiting COVID-19 test results?

Because you are a healthcare practice and come into close contact with so many people, the first thing you should do is contact your state’s public health department as soon as possible to get specific instruction from them. 

If you are informing people of potential exposure in the office, be sure to maintain the confidentiality of the individual who was exposed/infected/awaiting test results.

My employee is travelling. Can I make them get tested or stay at home when they return?

Encourage the employee to practice good hygiene on their trip (good advice really for all employees, traveling or not), and encourage them to self-report to you immediately if they find out they have been in close contact with anyone with the virus. 

Caution them that the status of the pandemic and recommendations for travel and public health are changing quickly, so you will have to evaluate their return to work as their travel comes to an end. You may need to have them self-quarantine at home for a period of time. They should take that into account when making a final decision about travelling. If you may have remote work options for them, discuss that as well. 

When preparing for their return, review current guidelines around travel:

Also talk to the employee about whether they came into exposure, or if they are experiencing any symptoms. You can use your best judgment from there on whether to have them come back to work, or stay at home for a period of time. 

We do not recommend that you require someone to get a COVID-19 test, as they are in limited supplies and your employee may not qualify for receiving a test. Particularly if they aren’t actually showing any COVID-19 symptoms. If they are feeling unwell, you can ask for a doctor’s note confirming they are ok to return to work. But be aware that many urgent care and primary care offices are overwhelmed with patients right now, so this may delay things further. 

I have an employee returning from travel to an affected area, what should I do?

Here’s another reminder that there’s a lot of misinformation out there. So don’t make any decisions or jump to any conclusions without checking out the facts first. First, look at the specific location they are coming from to determine the actual level of risk. Just because an employee is returning from Asia or Europe, does not necessarily mean they have a higher risk of being infected, than if they had stayed here in the US.

Check out how many cases there have been in the specific country they are coming from, how long it has been since a new case has been identified, and review current CDC guidelines, including what the CDC is saying about the level of risk of travel to that specific country. This should help you determine what level of concern is reasonable.

If the employee is exhibiting any of the symptoms of the coronavirus, then you want to respond to that issue.

What should I do if an employee requests time off because s/he thinks they may have been exposed to the virus or are feeling sick with a fever?

You and the employee may want to review the CDC’s risk assessment criteria to better evaluate the situation. If the employee is concerned they may have been exposed, but does not currently have any symptoms, then you may want to consider having the employee work remotely performing administrative tasks (If that makes sense). We do understand that clinical staff can’t see patients remotely! Additionally, if the employee is actively sick, they should not work at all.

If you have a written sick leave and/or medical leave of absence policy in place, it will make this process much easier because all you have to do is follow your policy, just like you would any other time off or leave of absence request.

To start with, give the employee the OK to go home or to not come in. If they do have a heightened risk of exposure, you don’t want to introduce that to your office. Also be sure to document every step of the way. Ask the employee to make the leave request in writing. You can have the employee provide medical certification from their medical provider of the need for leave and for how long. Approve the request in writing and make sure to establish an expected return date. If you are subject to FMLA or any similar law, make sure to use the proper documentation in compliance with those laws.

All of this can be done over email or fax rather than the employee coming into the office. Where possible, if they need more than your policy allows (they certainly will if they have the virus) be accommodating of that. When the employee reports they are able to return to work, you should ask the employee to provide certification from their medical provider that they are fit to return to work and to indicate any work restrictions.

If you are a CEDR member, we can help you with each step of this process. Also note that in many instances employees will be well enough to work from home prior to being well enough to return to work. CEDR members have access to our remote PTO and Time Tracking software if you have asked us to set that up for you. The software will also help you and your employees track and categorize paid and unpaid time off as well as remote work hours. It’s also an excellent place to post bulletins to the entire team.

As a reminder for employers who are also medical providers: Being a doctor doesn’t allow you to make medical decisions for your employees. You’re in the employer/manager’s seat, not the doctor’s seat in this relationship. This means that all information regarding the employee’s medical condition should come from the employee’s medical provider.

Depending on your business’ size and location, employees who take sick leave or a medical leave of absence may be protected under the law. This means that taking any adverse action against these employees would be highly risky. While we doubt anyone reading would take an adverse action because someone is sick, keep in mind that an employee’s illness may delay your ability to address other performance concerns.

Can I make the employee take a two-week leave of absence?

Based on the reasonable level of risk, decide what, if any, precautions you want to take. One of the options that we are asked about most often is whether employers can make the employee take a two-week leave of absence.

Before making this decision, there are a few legal risk factors that should be taken into consideration:

  • Depending on the size of your business and your location, there may be protections for employees who have a ‘perceived’ disability. What this means is that an employee could file a claim saying that you discriminated against them based on the ‘perceived’ disability of having contracted the coronavirus. A discrimination claim could be based on any adverse action you take against the employee based on this ‘percieved’ disability. Forced unpaid leave could easily be considered an adverse action.

    All of that is to say that we want you to be cautious in the use of a blanket policy where you simply send people home based on something other than a clear, objective issue. Sending them home because they appear sick is one thing. Sending them home simply because they were recently in a specific geographic area is quite another.

  • If the employee feels they are being singled out due to their race or national origin, this would only add to the risk of a discrimination claim, especially if the employee is treated differently by the employer or their coworkers upon her return.

On the other hand, employers do have obligations under OSHA to provide a safe workplace to their employees. So, as an employer, this kind of puts you in between a rock and a hard place, doesn’t it? Start with incremental leave and then extend it based on the facts and feedback from the employee.

A few other important factors to consider here:

If you have employees who express concerns about another employee returning to work after travel or having taken time to see if they are actually sick with the virus, let them know that you are happy they came to management with their concerns and should continue to do so. Reassure them that their safety is management’s number one priority and that you are taking all precautions necessary to protect the workplace.

At the same time, when the travelling employee does return to work, it is important that s/he is not treated differently. Keep an eye out to ensure no one is making snide comments, shunning the employee, or doing anything out of the ordinary that may make the returning employee feel unwelcome.

My employee has a compromised immune system and does not want to work

If you have an employee with a chronic medical issue that causes them to be more susceptible to illness, or say an employee who is pregnant and concerned about her own health and the health of her baby, they may be worried about being exposed to the coronavirus in the workplace. It’s important to treat those concerns with respect, and show compassion for what the employee is going through.

We recommend meeting one-on-one with the employee (or by phone if they aren’t in the office) and talking through their specific concerns about the workplace. You may be able to take steps to make them feel more comfortable at work. The employee may also be able to get recommendations or work restrictions, in writing, from their healthcare provider. If so you should do what you can to accommodate those. Before you say no to any request like this, we highly recommend you contact CEDR so we can help evaluate your HR obligations. Also consider work-from-home options. Again, if their medical provider indicates in writing that they should not work, then we will help you lean back into your leave of absence policies and respond on a case-by-case basis.

If you are not able to arrive at a mutually workable solution, then you need to turn to your written time off policies. The employee may have a bank of paid time off available for use. If not, or if they run through that time, then you can allow them time off pursuant to your leave of absence policies.

What should I do now to be prepared for or to prevent infection at the office?

We highly recommend reviewing the CDC’s guidance for employers. The CDC has been firmly established as a go-to reference for coronavirus preparation and facts. OSHA guidelines are also very informative for employers on this issue, particularly in the healthcare field.

Here are some practical steps you can take now to prevent an infection in the workplace:

  • Remind all employees to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently, and to cover their nose with the inside of their elbow when they sneeze. The CDC has educational materials about basic safeguards that may want to distribute or hang up in the office.
  • Make sure each employee has hand sanitizer readily available, and remind them to actually use it!
  • Make sure each employee has disinfectant wipes easily available so they can clean their workstation at the end of each day (keyboard, phone headsets, light switches, etc.) You may also want to add regular wipe downs of things like doors and railings as a part of your routine.
  • Make sure employees are strictly following all clinical sanitation/cleaning protocols in accordance with existing OSHA standards. We recommend checking for any updates from OSHA on a regular basis.
  • Check in with janitorial staff about what they clean to fill in any gaps as needed, e.g. sanitizing door knobs and push plates on doors, cleaning the chairs in the waiting room, etc.

These may seem like you’re simply covering the basics, but for now reinforcing healthy measures is the best thing you can do.

Encourage your team to use their sick days as a strategic and preventive measure.

We know that having even one employee out of the office can put a strain on the rest of the team. But coming into work sick can result in the rest of your staff, and even your patients/customers, getting sick as well. So while we’re in the flu season and facing the unknowns of the coronavirus, you may want to err on the safe side and encourage staff to stay home if they are getting sick, have come into contact with someone with the virus, or need to care for a sick family member.

You may have team members who try to work through their illness because they feel guilty about taking time off, or more likely, because they simply can’t afford to take unpaid days off. Be supportive of their need to take care of themselves and their families. We are monitoring to see if states will offer emergency unemployment benefits to employees affected by mandatory absences due to this illness. In the recent past, where large natural disasters have occurred, some states have enacted emergency funding for those affected.

Contingency planning

Unfortunately, despite any preventative measures you take you could still end up with a lot of sick staff or even having to shut down the office. Do yourself a favor and take some time now to plan for how you would handle that should it come up. Perhaps put together a flow chart that identifies the essential functions of each position and who would take over those functions should the primary person need to stay at home and can’t work.

If you’re thinking this is extreme, keep in mind that you never know what might happen to your business – fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, public health issues, and more are all real things that happen to real businesses. Every business owner should have some form of a contingency plan in place so that you’re not caught completely unprepared. Your team will be looking to you for answers, and your patients and customers will be wanting to know what you’re doing.

Here are some factors to consider when creating a contingency plan for an outbreak where the office has to close or go with limited staff:

  • Determine essential items that need to get done, even if you are short staffed or the business is shut down. Paying bills, getting the mail, contacting vendors, patients, clients, etc. all needs to happen. List out those tasks, and who would be responsible for each of them.
  • Plan for staff coverage. For example, if Team Member A is out, then Team Member B will step in to cover that department or essential tasks.
  • Plan for how clients/patients will be notified if you need to reschedule appointments.
  • Determine what work can be done remotely, and by who, and what equipment they will need. Remember that remote employees must still follow HIPAA protocols for accessing and securing access to PHI.

We recommend a scheduled daily check in with your team. Here at CEDR we are meeting each morning with our leaders to discuss any updates, both to how we want to operate internally and how we are advising our members. If we go to a remote work situation, we will schedule daily call-ins to a conference number and check in on everyone to keep the wheels on the bus. We are currently stress testing various departments and our remote service systems because that is what makes sense for our business.

Finally, communicate to your team that you are keeping your eye on this and taking extra precautions. Encourage them to come to you with concerns, and with any ideas they may have. The goal here is to be prepared with preventative measures, and ensure your team feels supported and looked after.

What about my patients / clients / customers / vendors?

Since CEDR is an HR company, we are only addressing the business impact of COVID-19 on you as an employer. We work with hundreds of employers in the healthcare industry, so we know that there are related concerns that go beyond your employees. That does get outside the scope of our expertise, so we recommend seeking separate guidance on those topics. To get you started, here are some resources that may be useful to your business:

Unemployment Guidance

My employee lives in another state, where do they apply for unemployment?

If an employee is applying for unemployment, either because they are not working or because of significantly reduced hours, they apply for UI in the state where they live.

Can I get unemployment as an owner?

If your business pays you as an employee and your pay runs through payroll taxes, then you may be eligible. Your CPA may have more specifics on this for you based on your pay set up.

Can a part time employee get unemployment?

Unemployment eligibility will be determined by the state, using a number of factors. If any employee has reduced hours or is not receiving hours, they should apply for unemployment.

Can employees still receive unemployment if I give them some hours?

Employees can receive unemployment if they are not working at all, and if they have significantly reduced hours. Their eligibility and amount of benefits is determined by the state. If they are receiving income from you, they will need to report it, and the state will determine if that adjusts the amount of UI they receive. We encourage you to give employees hours where you can, as any regular pay from you is likely to be higher than what they would receive on unemployment.

Not a CEDR Member?

Get additional guidance and updates in our private Facebook Group

How much unemployment can an employee receive?

Each state has their own formula for  determining UI benefit eligibility and amounts. We aren’t able to determine those amounts for you.

Where do my employees go to apply for unemployment?

We have provided a list of state-specific resources on this page, including links to your state’s unemployment offices. Click here to find a list of resources in your state.

PTO, Vacation, & Sick Leave Guidance

Do I have to let my employees use PTO while my business is closed?

It is generally up to you whether you allow employees to use their PTO, vacation, or sick time during a closure. Note that if your state, city, or county has a mandatory sick pay law, then you may need to allow employees to use their sick hours upon request. 

If, however, you are telling them this is an official layoff, they are being separated from employment, and they may be rehired later, then you need to follow your state law and written policies about whether unused paid time off is cashed out. 

Click Here to Download CEDR’s Final Pay Guide for All 50 States

Do my employees have to use PTO before they can collect unemployment?

Each state determines eligibility criteria for unemployment, including whether any accrued paid time off benefits need to be used before receiving benefits. We are not expecting states to require this of employers who are only temporarily closing or reducing hours but, again, this is up to each state.

Resources in Your State

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New Hampshire

New Jersey

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Rhode Island

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Washington, D.C.

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We will continue to update this guidance as news changes, and in response to questions we receive from our members. Please bookmark this page to keep up-to-date on the latest HR guidance.

If you would like to submit a question related to how the current coronavirus outbreak affects your business, please send it to We also want to note that there is no way to easily identify whether an employee or a family member actually has the virus at this time. As that changes, we will add to our guidance.

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Post updated March 31, 2020. Originally published March 3, 2020.