The Chamber Takes Care of Business No Matter What
The Greater Phoenix Chamber has been taking care of businesses for over 130 years, and through uncertain times, you can be certain that we are going to serve our members and our community no matter what. We have gathered information on available resources and answers to frequently asked questions.
Small Business Administration Approves Loans For Arizona Businesses Affected By COVID-19
SBA Loans and Relief
Your small business or nonprofit may be eligible for financial relief from the Small Business Administration as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Arizona Commerce Authority provides information, tools and guidance on business finance support, workforce assistance, essential infrastructure information, supply chain and logistics, housing and community volunteer opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are some of the best sources for up to date health information?
- Virus overview
- AZ State Health Department
- Sign up for Maricopa County Public Health Department alerts
- Sign up for Arizona Department of Health Services alerts
- Subscribe to CDC updates
- Sign up for email updates from the U.S. Department of Labor
- Arizona health insurance providers have COVID-19 specific information available:
2. State and County COVID-19 Info
Workplace & Health
1. What’s the main workplace safety guidance we should follow?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, outlining steps employers can take to help protect their workforce. OSHA has divided workplaces and work operations into four risk zones, according to the likelihood of employees’ occupational exposure during a pandemic. These risk zones are useful in determining appropriate work practices and precautions.
Very High Exposure Risk:
Healthcare employees performing aerosol-generating procedures on known or suspected pandemic patients.
Healthcare or laboratory personnel collecting or handling specimens from known or suspected pandemic patients.
High Exposure Risk:
Healthcare delivery and support staff exposed to known or suspected pandemic patients.
Medical transport of known or suspected pandemic patients in enclosed vehicles.
Performing autopsies on known or suspected pandemic patients.
Medium Exposure Risk:
Employees with high-frequency contact with the general population (such as schools, high population density work environments, and some high-volume retail).
Lower Exposure Risk (Caution):
Employees who have minimal occupational contact with the general public and other coworkers (such as office employees).
Our guidance focuses on medium to lower risk work environments and please contact us for additional support in Very High and High Exposure settings.
2. What if an employee appears sick?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has provided interim guidance that may help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. The guidance also provides planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19.
Recommended strategies for employers to use now:
Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants). Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.
Separate sick employees:
CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).
Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees:
Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
Perform routine environmental cleaning:
Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.
Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps:
Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before starting travel and notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
If outside the United States, sick employees should follow your company’s policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates, and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability, and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines, or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.
Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the COVID-19:
Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
3. Can we ask an employee to stay home or leave work if they exhibit symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus or the flu?
According to CDC guidance, individuals who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 should self-quarantine. Employers can require an employee who has been exposed to the virus to stay at home.
4. When should we exclude workers or visitors from the workspace?
Employees should stay home or go home if they have symptoms of coronavirus infection. But dedicated staff often resist taking sick days, instead dragging themselves into work where they may infect others. Given the threat this epidemic presents, managers shouldn’t hesitate to send employees who present with Covid-19 symptoms home. Likewise, employees or visitors who are symptomatic or at high risk for Covid-19 should be kept separate from staff and helped with arrangements to leave the workplace and obtain medical evaluation while minimizing their public exposure. For example, they should avoid public places and public transportation, and, ideally, should stay six feet away from others unless they are wearing a mask.
If Covid-19 becomes widespread in the community, companies can check temperatures using hand-held thermal scanners and consider excluding staff or visitors with temperatures over 100.4 F. Temperature is not an exceptionally accurate way to assess risk, though, as some with the coronavirus will be contagious but have no fever, and others will have higher temperatures not related to this virus. Thus, an elevated temperature in combination with respiratory symptoms is the best indicator of possible infection.
5. Should we revise our benefits policies in cases where employees are barred from the worksite or we close it?
The likelihood that increasing numbers of employees will be unable to work either because they are sick or must care for others means that companies should review their paid time off and sick leave policies now. Policies that give employees confidence that they will not be penalized and can afford to take sick leave are an important tool in encouraging self-reporting and reducing potential exposure. A Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey found that nearly 40% of employers have or plan to clarify their pay policy if worksites are closed or employees are furloughed.
While few companies outside of Asia have closed worksites yet because of the epidemic, about half of the Chinese companies we surveyed had shut down worksites at least temporarily. Such closures will likely become more common outside of Asia should the epidemic continue on its current course.
Most firms will treat Covid-19 in their policies as they would any other illness, and sick leave or short-term disability insurance would be applicable. However, exclusion from the workplace might not be covered by disability policies, and prolonged absence could last longer than available sick leave. The same HBR survey found that more than 90% of employers in China paid their workers in full and maintained full benefits during furloughs. Companies should promulgate clear policies on this now and communicate about these with employees. Most will want to offer protections to their workforce to the extent this is financially feasible. (HBR)
6. How can we maximize employees’ ability to work remotely?
Free conference call resources services:
Psychology Today: 5 Tips for Working From Home During COVID-19
Harvard Review: 15 Questions About Remote Work
7. Do we have reliable systems for real-time public health communication with employees?
Dangerous rumors and worker fears can spread as quickly as a virus. It is imperative for companies to be able to reach all workers, including those not at the worksite, with regular, internally coordinated, factual updates about infection control, symptoms, and company policy regarding remote work and circumstances in which employees might be excluded from or allowed to return to the workplace. These communications should come from or be vetted by the emergency response team, and they should be carefully coordinated to avoid inconsistent policies being communicated by different managers or functions. Clearly this requires organizations to maintain current phone/text and email contact information for all employees and test organization-wide communication periodically. If you don’t have a current, universal contact capability already, now is a good time to create this.
8. Should we revise our policies around international and domestic business travel?
9. Should we postpone or cancel scheduled conferences or meetings?
If you have any questions about best practices, contact your local health department. Many employers are cancelling all but the most essential business travel.
There is mounting evidence that social distancing can delay the epidemic and potentially save lives, so most meetings and conferences should be converted from in-person to virtual. The CDC now recommends suspending all gatherings of over 50 people. If you have a meeting, limit the number of attendees and encourage those who are older or have chronic disease to attend virtually. Provide room to allow attendees to sit or stand at least six feet away from others. Discourage hand-shaking and assure that proper handwashing facilities (and/or hand sanitizers) are easily available.
10. What steps can we take now to minimize risk of transmission?
Repeatedly, creatively, and aggressively encourage employees and others to take the same steps they should be taking to avoid the seasonal flu. For the annual influenza, SARS, avian flu, swine flu, and now the COVID-19 coronavirus, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid exposure. The messages you should be giving to your employees are:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.Avoid close contact with others, especially those who are sick.
Refrain from shaking hands with others for the time being.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Perhaps the most important message you can give to employees: stay home when you are sick.
As an employer, you should be doing the following:
Ensure that employees have ample facilities to wash their hands, including tepid water and soap, and that third-party cleaning/custodial schedules are accelerated.
Evaluate your remote work capacities and policies (see later section on Remote Work for more information). Teleconference or use other remote work tools in lieu of meeting in person if available.
Consider staggering employee starting and departing times, along with lunch and break periods, to minimize overcrowding in common areas such as elevators, break rooms, etc.
Have a single point of contact for employees for all concerns that arise relating to health and safety.
Follow updates from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding additional precautions.
1. Is there accounting guidance specific to this period during COVID-19?
See Grant Thornton’s Navigating Accounting Implications during COVID-19.
2. Is there guidance for businesses to reduce financial risk during the crisis?
3. Does my business insurance cover income losses due to the COVID-19?
To determine if your business would qualify for a business interruption claim, check with your business insurance policy or provider. While each policy could be different in a few cases, policies may cover losses on a limited basis if they include a clause known as ‘interruption by communicable disease’. Additional information available from “Risk Strategies”.
4. Is there financial support available for small businesses?
The Small Business Administration (SBA) approved an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration for Arizona’s small businesses. Businesses may be eligible for up to $2 million through this program. Apply for a loan.
1. Where can I find additional legal resources?
Additional in-depth resources have been provided by various firms.
2. What sort of liability can businesses expect during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has developed guidance regarding the liability of COVID-19 that fall into four areas of liability:
Exposure related claims
Medical liability for health care providers
You can review their guidance documents here:
1. What unemployment resources are available for my impacted employees?
2. What childcare resources are available for my impacted employees?
3. How do I best communicate with my employees through the health crisis?
Lockton provides this guide for internal communications. Companies may modify this language to meet their needs
4. What support can our employees receive from utility companies?
5. Are there food options for the children of our employees stuck at home?
The Congregate and Home Delivered Meals – for eligible older adults. Some districts may have expanded to provide meal delivery and pick up for students.
Looking for a place to order takeout? Visit Arizona Restaurant Week’s list of participating restaurants and dine local.
6. My employees need help paying rent, utilities, etc. Is anyone helping with this?
On 3/24/2020, Governor Ducey signed an executive order protecting renters that are medically or financially impacted by COVID-19 from being evicted. This aligns with the March 18 federal suspension of evictions from HUD financed properties. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days due to the coronavirus national emergency.
View more information on what the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is doing to support those impacted by COVID-19.
The Arizona Department of Housing offers assistance to Arizonans struggling to make mortgage payments. Through the Department’s “Save Our Home AZ” (SOHAZ) program, Arizonans may qualify for:
Principal Reduction Assistance,
Monthly Mortgage Subsidy Assistance for under and unemployed Arizonans,
And Second Lien Elimination Assistance.
The Arizona Department of Housing also operates a toll-free hotline staffed with housing counselors to answer questions about housing in Arizona. To reach a housing counselor toll free, Arizonans can call: 1-877-448-1211.
7. What should I do if I or my employees lose job-based health insurance?
1. What are the restrictions on operations?
2. What resources are available to support changes in my business operations?
The Arizona Commerce Authority’s COVID-19 Arizona Business Resources page provides information, tools and guidance on business finance support, workforce assistance, essential infrastructure information, supply chain and logistics, housing and community volunteer opportunities. This site will be updated regularly as new information becomes available.
See Arizona Shared Work as an alternative to reducing staff.
Also, Grant Thornton provides guidance Navigating Human Capital Implications during COVID-19.
See Arizona Together, a comprehensive site on resources for individuals and small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
3. Is there guidance for construction companies specific to project operations during COVID-19?
See Grant Thorton’s Managing Construction Project Risk during COVID-19.
4. Is there guidance for commercial real estate firm operations during COVID-19?
See Grant Thorton’s Managing Corporate Real Estate Considerations during COVID-19.
5. My restaurant is now focusing on carryout and delivery. How do we let customers know about this change?
Business planning considerations:
US Chamber of Commerce – 8 Things Your Small Business Needs to Do
6. Are there resources to guide resuming business operations during the pandemic?
See Snell & Wilmer’s Roadmap to Reopening or Resuming Business in the Midst of a Pandemic.
7. My business is hiring right now. Who can assist with my hiring needs?
If you are one of the many companies looking to fill immediate openings, several great staffing agencies that offer temporary and long-term staffing solutions:
Wonolo an on-demand and tech-driven temp staffing platform that connects businesses to workers instantly. Developed within the Coca-Cola Company, Wonolo was created to address a real need and problem within businesses to be able to adapt to fluctuations and unforeseen changes in business volume. With an emphasis on users and the community as well as how Wonolo leverages technology and data, Wonolo offers a unique solution to position businesses for operational success through its staffing strategy.
Stivers Staffing Services: With more than 70 years’ experience in the staffing business, we have become a trusted resource for employers and job seekers throughout the country.
Addison Group: A professional services firm offering industry-leading expertise with a national reach and a localized touch. Specializing in Information Technology, Finance & Accounting, Healthcare, Administration, Human Resources, and Engineering, Addison Group offers a full suite of professional services, including consulting, staffing, and executive search throughout the United States.
Express Employment Professionals helps your business to increase employee retention and lower turnover through customized staffing and human resources solutions. We specialize in Administrative, Commercial and Professional placements in temporary, long term and permanent jobs in the Phoenix and Ahwatukee areas.
Malone Workforce Solutions combines the ambition of business with the power of people. Our customer relations philosophy focuses on a true cohesive partnership approach as we tailor site specific solutions to meet our clients’ needs and exceed their expectations.
AP Professionals of Arizona Direct and contract to permanent placement focusing on information technology professionals.
Signature Consultants We provide IT Staffing on contract, contract to hire, and full time basis; specializing in Application Development & Programming, Analysis & Design, Project Management, Architecture, Database Development & Administration, Systems/Software-Implementations, Upgrades & Support, Network Security, ERP Systems, Quality Assurance & Testing & Training across vertical industries nationally.
SOLVE helps companies hire the right people, develop great talent and design engaging work environments—and when those elements are in place, our clients experience increased productivity and maximum organizational growth. SOLVERs are genuinely invested in your success, and we are committed to our vision: improving society’s relationship with work.
1. Are there any relief options for upcoming tax payments?
On March 20, the U.S. Treasury Secretary announced that Tax Day was moving from April 15 to July 15.
The IRS has updated the payment extension statement to include the new info on the tax season extension.
Small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to promptly and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.
Stay plugged in to the special coronavirus page for updates.
Also, see Navigating Tax Implications during COVID-19 from Grant Thornton.
2. What does proposed federal legislation mean for my employees?
As of 3/16/2020 this legislation has passed the House of Representatives, however still needs to be voted on by the Senate and signed into law. Below is a link to a brief explanation of the proposed legislation.
Governor Doug Ducey extended the Arizona tax deadline to match the federal extension and removed the one week waiting period before filing for unemployment. Learn more.
3. What are the government funding options for employers?
See Grant Thornton’s Government Funding Options to Explore during COVID-19.
4. Is there a government resource defining what are true government measures?
FEMA Rumor Control – Distinguish between myth and fact regarding the government’s response to COVID-19.
5. What are the sick leave benefits for employees impacted by COVID-19?
U.S. Department Of Labor – Guidance explaining paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
6. What should I know about the latest action from the Federal Reserve?
On May 1, the Federal Reserve made some changes expanding the scope and eligibility for the Main Street Lending Program. This program is designed for mid-size companies with businesses with up to 15,000 employees, or up to $5 billion in annual revenue are now eligible, compared to the initial program terms, which were for companies with up to 10,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenue. The minimum loan size for two of the options was also lowered to $500,000 from $1 million. With the changes, the program will now offer more options to a broader set of eligible small and medium-sized businesses.
For more information on the Main Street Lending Program, click here.
Small Business Loans
1. Is there payroll support for employers?
Learn more about the paycheck protection program, which helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the coronavirus crisis.
2. How does the CARES Act support workers and families?
In the weeks immediately after the passage of the CARES Act, Americans will see fast and direct relief in the form of Economic Impact Payments. For more information, CLICK HERE.
3. How does the CARES Act support small business?
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.
Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.
For a top-line overview of the program CLICK HERE
If you’re a lender, more information can be found HERE
If you’re a borrower, more information can be found HERE
The application for borrowers can be found HERE
4. How does the CARES Act provide payroll support?
The CARES Act assists eligible businesses looking for payroll support to keep Americans working. For more information, CLICK HERE.
5. What about the PPP in Arizona and where can I find a lender?
1. What should my nonprofit be considering right now?
BoardSource penned a recent blog on what nonprofit board members should be doing right now to address the COVId-19 situation. Also, they’ve provided a rundown of issues your board or organization may be facing.
Inspire Hearts Fundraising put together a comprehensive events response guide for nonprofit organizations.
2. Is there a place to donate funds to support those in need due to COVID-19?
Valley of the Sun United Way is committed to supporting urgent and emerging needs of Valley families and individuals, and the nonprofits serving them, through a new COVID-19 response fund. With an in-kind donation, you can quickly provide support to areas of the highest need in our community. View the greatest needs.
3. Where can I view nonprofit community information regarding COVID-19?
The Frontdoors Media team is collecting information and status updates from the Valley’s nonprofit community as our state and country take precautions to fight the spread of COVID-19. Nonprofits can view and submit information here.
4. How is the government helping with office renters impacted by COVID-19?
Expanding on previous Executive Order halting the foreclosure of renters impacted by COVID-19, Governor Ducey signed a similar order halting the foreclosure of non-profits and small businesses who are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19.
For more information, click HERE.
The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation is proud to support local schools transitioning to online learning and is committed to making learning accessible for all students. For more information about the Foundation’s laptop drive efforts or to donate a laptop, please click here.
Arizona State University launched ASU For You, a free, online learning hub for both students and job seekers. Visit asuforyou.asu.edu to view these tools.
Support Arizona Organizations
See how you can support Arizona organizations by donating critical supplies here.
Preparing for Reopening
Governor Doug Ducey announced that Arizona meets the criteria for Phase 1 of reopening per the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Arizona’s modified stay-at-home order expired on Friday, May 15. Since, then the Governor has issued the “Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger” executive order that encourages vulnerable individuals to stay at home, reminds Arizonans to continue to physically distance as much as possible, and allows businesses to reopen in accordance with specific guidelines.
On June 17, the Governor announced that local governments would be able to determine local face mask regulations.
1. What guidelines have been issued for businesses as Arizona prepares for reopening?
The Governor and the Arizona Department of Health Services issues new guidance for business. View the updated guidance here.
2. How can my office space prepare to safely welcome employees back?
There are several considerations for employers as they prepare to reopen office spaces and welcome employees.
For detailed insights on what path might be a good fit for your company, watch the Business in Focus: The Next Way of Work and Return a New Norm webinar here.
Your business can also review the office place guidelines from Goodmans Interior Structures.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona also created a resource for businesses returning to work. You can view that here.
Grant Opportunities for Arizona Businesses
There are several grant opportunities available to Arizona businesses during this challenging time.
If your business needs financial support at this time, you may qualify for a grant from the City of Phoenix. Currently, the City of Phoenix is offering three different grants to help businesses during this challenging time.
2. Are there local job training grants I can apply for?
Additionally, small businesses can access resources and funding opportunities through several local organizations.
The Arizona Commerce Authority is offering two Job Training Programs, including: