March 11, 2020

Businesses’ Coronavirus Considerations

Related Attorneys

Palmer G. Vance, II
Member, Stoll Keenon Ogeden PLLC

Businesses’ coronavirus considerations
The continuing spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) around the globe is dominating headlines and impacting businesses of all sizes.

The following issues are among those many businesses now face.

Business Recovery/Continuity Plans
SKO attorneys can evaluate your business-recovery and continuity plans to help enable your company to be operationally resilient with stable productivity.

Some businesses may find it difficult to perform their contractual obligations despite their best intentions. Industries that may be particularly affected include events, tourism, construction, manufacturing, logistics, retail, finance and banking.

• Your business may now be facing similar difficult questions in terms of how to comply with its contracts and dealing with business partners who are unable to perform.

• Common contractual issues likely to arise now include:

     • Understanding force majeure provisions
     • Complying with contractual time limits
     • Dealing with potential breaches of contract
     • Suspending or terminating contracts

Financial Market Impacts
Our attorneys’ knowledge and creative solution-solving can guide plan fiduciaries as they face challenges associated with investment strategies in a fluctuating market to help them safeguard 401(k) plans and related options for employees.

Liability risks also exist for businesses, especially in industries like health care, hospitality, transportation, and retail. Businesses are well-advised to assess their risks and determine whether existing insurance coverage may help meet such exposures.

In addition, companies may wish to carefully consider other insurance products, including those for business interruption, supply chain losses, event cancellation, exposure liabilities, and workers compensation for job-related exposures.

Labor/Employment/Employee Safety Issues
Businesses must be attentive to regulatory requirements involving recruitment, hiring and termination policies and practices and individual privacy.

Companies providing employee health insurance may be forced to contend with sharply rising costs, and their insured employees may face staggering costs for hospital visits and other tests, or surprise billing on out-of-network charges.
Companies must be attentive and responsive to employees’ concerns about personal health privacy, compensation and sick pay, paid leave, working remotely, FMLA requirements, ADA and other anti-discrimination law limitations and workplace hygiene.

Liability for Health Professionals
SKO can guide healthcare professionals through emerging risks and related issues, including liability management, patient safety and patient engagement.

Public Accommodation Issues
Hospitality and tourism attractions face special considerations involving their patrons, including venue hygiene and safety, guest admissions and control, business-cancellation and liability insurance, risk management and state-of-emergency requirements.

Supply Chain Issues
Suppliers and/or users of supplies may have to soon deal with coronavirus-related supply disruptions, including:
• Business-interruption insurance
Force majeure
• Vendor agreements
• Travel interruption for employees and suppliers

Coronavirus could possibly lead to an economic downturn in the United States and elsewhere. Decreased consumer and business spending, stock market instability and supply chain disruptions will compromise liquidity, prompt increased business loan defaults (covenant and payment defaults) and could increase business bankruptcy filings and other restructuring and liquidations.

The Retail and Hospitality sectors may be particularly vulnerable. SKO’s insolvency practitioners have counseled our clients through and out of economic troubles for decades and can help businesses anticipate and head off future problems.

Particularly during this turbulent, uncertain time, businesses need trusted advisors to help protect and guide them. This is exactly what Stoll Keenon Ogden’s lawyers have been doing for over 120 years.