Coronavirus Business Tracker: How The Private Sector Is Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic - Forbes

Coronavirus Business Tracker: How The Private Sector Is Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic - Forbes


Coronavirus Business Tracker: How The Private Sector Is Fighting The COVID-19 Pandemic - Forbes

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 01:47 PM PDT

Latest update: April 1, 2020, at 4:47 pm ET.

Businesses around the world are shifting into overdrive to help battle the coronavirus, providing everything from rubber gloves and ventilators to diagnostic tools and, hopefully soon, vaccines. While the pandemic continues to wreak havoc, large corporations and small businesses are developing creative solutions to halt the spread of the virus.

Just as automakers famously shifted to make tanks and planes during World War II, today's global giants — LVMH, Ford and GE to name a few — are retooling their production lines to help make everything from hand sanitizers to respirators. On the medical front, there are more than three dozen COVID-19 vaccines under development, a smart move considering that two out of every three vaccines for infectious diseases fail, according to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Forbes will continue to update this list of private companies and how they are stepping up to fight the COVID-19 pandemic:

Testing:

Abbott Laboratories: Abbott Park, Illinois healthcare firm obtained emergency FDA authorization for its 5-minute coronavirus testing kit on March 27, with plans to start manufacturing 50,000 kits a day.

Alphabet: Through its healthcare arm Verily, Google's parent company launched a website where users can find nearby testing sites in four California counties.

Amazon: Jeff Bezos' retail behemoth invested $20 million in the Amazon Web Services Diagnostic Initiative, which aims to speed up delivery of COVID-19 tests to the market.

BioMérieux: French biotech company, founded by billionaire Alain Mérieux, received emergency FDA approval for its subsidiary's new testing kit, which cuts testing times for the virus down to 45 minutes.

Carbon: California-based 3D printing unicorn backed by Russian tech investor Yuri Milner will soon be distributing testing swabs and face shields to hospitals in the Bay Area.

Cepheid: Sunnyvale, California molecular diagnostics company gained emergency FDA authorization for its new 45-minute COVID-19 testing kit.

Copan Diagnostics: Family-owned company located at the heart of Italy's hard-hit Lombardy region makes diagnostic swabs for testing, airlifting 500,000 swabs to the U.S.

DiaSorin: Italian biotech company owned by billionaire Gustavo Denegri obtained emergency authorization from the FDA for its new 60-minute testing kit for COVID-19.

Mammoth Biosciences: South San Francisco-based biotech startup, founded by three 30 Under 30 alums, prototyped a rapid test by using the gene-editing tool Crispr to detect the disease.

Mesa Biotech: San Diego biotech business obtained FDA approval for its new 30-minute testing kit for COVID-19.

Puritan Medical Products: Maine-based diagnostic maker, one of the world's largest makers of diagnostic swabs along with Italy's Copan Diagnostics, is reportedly increasing production to make one million COVID-19 testing swabs a week.

Treatments:

AbbVie: North Chicago-based, publicly traded pharma firm is collaborating with authorities in the EU, the U.S. and China on experimental use of its HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir to treat COVID-19.

AIM Immunotech: Florida-based pharmaceutical company announced on March 9 it would begin experimental testing of its chronic fatigue syndrome drug rintatolimod as a treatment for COVID-19 in Japan, at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and the University of Tokyo.

Algernon Pharmaceuticals: Vancouver-based pharmaceutical firm is requesting FDA approval to begin trials of its chronic cough medication ifenprodil as a treatment for COVID-19.

AlloVir: Houston-based cell and gene therapy company is collaborating with Baylor College of Medicine to discover and develop T-cell therapies to fight COVID-19.

Apeiron Biologics: Vienna-based biotech firm started small-scale trials of its immunotherapy treatment on COVID-19 in China in February.

Ascletis: Hangzhou, China pharmaceutical company announced results of clinical trials of its antiviral drug danoprevir on COVID-19 patients in China; the small-scale study found that "danoprevir combined with ritonavir is safe and well tolerated in all patients."

Bioxytran: Boston-based biotech outfit is developing a viral inhibitor to treat COVID-19.

Celltrion: South Korean healthcare firm is developing an antiviral treatment for COVID-19 as well as rapid self-testing kits that would provide results within fifteen to twenty minutes.

Cocrystal Pharma: Bothell, Washington pharma outfit is developing antivirals to treat COVID-19 using patents it recently acquired from the Kansas State University Research Foundation.

CytoDyn: Vancouver, Washington biotech firm announced preliminary results from three days of testing its antiviral drug leronlimab on COVID-19 patients in New York; the company stated in a press release that "test results from the first four patients suggests immunological benefit within three days following treatment with leronlimab."

Eli Lilly: Indianapolis pharma company is partnering with Vancouver-based biotech outfit AbCellera to develop antibody-based treatments for COVID-19.

Emergent BioSolutions: Maryland drugmaker is developing treatments derived from the antibodies found in the blood of people who tested positive for the disease.

EUSA Pharma: British pharmaceutical firm initiated trials of its siltuximab antibody treatment on COVID-19 patients at the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital in Bergamo, Italy; the company released initial data on April 1 showing that one third of patients "experienced clinical improvement with reduced need for oxygen support" and a further 43% "saw their disease stabilise."

Fujifilm Toyama Chemical: Tokyo-based conglomerate's flu drug favipiravir has shown promising results in early clinical trials on COVID-19 patients in China, and the company is investing $83 million in its biological manufacturing capabilities.

Gilead: The Californian biotech giant initiated clinical trials in March for its antiviral drug remdesivir on patients in the U.S.

Harbour BioMed: Cambridge, Massachusetts biomedical firm announced a collaboration with New York's Mount Sinai Health System to develop new human antibodies to treat COVID-19.

I-Mab Biopharma: Shanghai-based biopharma outfit announced it would begin clinical trials of its TJM2 antibody treatment on COVID-19 patients in the United States, with plans to expand to other countries affected by the pandemic.

ImmunoPrecise: Canadian life sciences company is teaming up with New York-based AI startup EVQLV Inc on researching antibody-based therapies and a vaccine for COVID-19.

Innovation Pharmaceuticals: Wakefield, Massachusetts biopharma firm is researching the use of its drug brilacidin — part of a category of investigational new drugs called defensin mimetics, which could have antimicrobial effects — as both a treatment and a vaccine for COVID-19, in separate efforts with a "major U.S. university" and with the Department of Health and Human Services.

ISR Immune System Regulation: Swedish immunotherapy firm's subsidiary, ISR HBV, is conducting toxicological studies to determine whether its Immunolid ISR50 treatment could be used against COVID-19.

Kamada: Israeli pharmaceutical company is working on an antibody-based treatment for COVID-19 using the blood plasma of patients who recovered from the disease.

Mateon Therapeutics: Californian biopharma firm is testing a number of antiviral drugs as potential treatments for COVID-19 and is preparing to submit an application to the FDA in order to begin clinical trials on patients.

Merck KGaA: Darmstadt, Germany-based pharma multinational donated a supply of its multiple sclerosis drug interferon beta-1a to the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris for clinical trials on COVID-19 patients. The company's North American life sciences arm, MilliporeSigma, is supplying several vaccine efforts with reagents and other essential raw products for vaccine development.

Mesoblast: Australian medical firm is working with authorities in the U.S., Australia, China and Europe to evaluate the use of its remestemcel-L drug to treat COVID-19.

Mylan: Pennsylvania-based pharmaceutical firm restarted production of hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to fight lupus, malaria and arthritis, at its West Virginia factory; the drug is being tested as a treatment for COVID-19 in human trials in New York.

Pluristem Therapeutics: Haifa, Israel-based medical company is developing a cell-based therapy to treat COVID-19, announcing on March 30 it had dosed three Israeli patients under a compassionate use program, with plans to enroll more.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals: Westchester, New York biotech outfit, run by billionaires Leonard Schleifer and George Yancopoulos, is conducting clinical trials of its rheumatoid arthritis drug sarilumab, developed with French firm Sanofi, on patients in New York.

Roche: Swiss pharma titan, part-owned by billionaire Maja Oeri, is testing its arthritis drug tocilizumab to treat patients in China and received FDA approval to begin U.S. trials.

Roivant Sciences: Swiss pharma company is working with U.S. authorities to begin trials of its antibody treatment, gimsilumab, on COVID-19 patients.

Takeda: Japanese medical firm is working on hyperimmune therapy using blood plasma from previously infected patients.

Vir Biotechnology: The San Francisco-based firm is collaborating with Biogen and Chinese medical firm WuXi Biologics to manufacture antibodies that could treat the virus.

Vaccines:

AJ Vaccines: Danish vaccine developer is working on a COVID-19 vaccine that could hit the market in 2021.

Altimmune: The company is developing a novel intranasal vaccine for the coronavirus, making it one of three firms based in Gaithersburg, Maryland — along with Emergent Biosolutions and Novavax — that's working on treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.

Arcturus Therapeutics: San Diego-based vaccine maker is developing a COVID-19 vaccine with researchers at the Duke-National University of Singapore medical school in Singapore.

Biocad: Russian drug developer is researching a COVID-19 vaccine, with animal trials scheduled for late April.

BioNTech: German biotech firm backed by billionaire twins Thomas and Andreas Struengmann is working to develop a coronavirus vaccine in partnership with Pfizer and Fosun Pharma, chaired by billionaire Guo Guangchang.

CanSino Biologics: Tianjin, China-based pharma company is starting clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine, using the vaccine technology deployed to develop the Ebola vaccine.

Codagenix: Melville, New York biotech firm is teaming up with the Serum Institute of India to develop a live-attenuated COVID-19 vaccine, which uses a live but weakened form of the virus.

CureVac: German firm, funded by billionaire Dietmar Hopp and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, received $87 million from the European Commission to scale up development of its coronavirus vaccine.

Dyadic: Jupiter, Florida company is collaborating with the Israel Institute for Biological Research on both treatment and a vaccine against COVID-19, using the firm's gene expression platform.

Dynavax: Emeryville, California vaccine maker is working with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the University of Queensland to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

EpiVax: Providence-based immunology firm is working with the University of Georgia and Miramar, Florida biotech outfit Generex on separate COVID-19 vaccine efforts.

ExpreS2ion: Danish biotech company received a grant of nearly $1 million from the European Union to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

GeoVax: Atlanta-based medical company is collaborating with Wuhan-based BioVax to jointly produce a COVID-19 vaccine.

GlaxoSmithKline: British pharma titan is partnering with CEPI and Chengdu, China-based Clover Pharmaceuticals to use its pandemic vaccine adjuvant platform — which boosts the immune response in patients receiving a shot — to speed up development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Greffex: Houston-based genetic engineering firm is preparing to begin animal trials for its COVID-19 vaccine.

Heat Biologics: North Carolina biopharma company is developing a COVID-19 vaccine with the University of Miami.

iBio: Newark, Delaware biotech upstart is collaborating with Beijing-based CC-Pharming on the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Inovio: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania biotech business received $11.9 million in funding from the Department of Defense to rapidly produce a DNA vaccine for COVID-19 with drugmaker Ology Bioservices.

Johnson & Johnson: The company's pharma unit, Janssen, will start manufacturing its vaccine — developed with the Department of Health and Human Services — this month, with human trials set to begin by September and a public rollout hoped for early 2021. The company and the federal government are investing more than $1 billion in the vaccine effort.

Medicago: Quebec City-based biotech company received more than $7 million from the Canadian and Quebec governments to fund development of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna: Massachusetts biotech company was the first to begin human trials of its vaccine — on March 16 in Seattle — and could deploy it to health workers for emergency use by the fall.

Novavax: Maryland-based vaccine maker received $4 million in funding from CEPI to accelerate development of its vaccine candidates, with clinical trials expected in the late spring.

Sanofi: French medical firm is working with the federal government and Massachusetts-based Translate Bio to expedite its coronavirus vaccine, using technology previously used to develop one for SARS.

Sorrento Therapeutics: San Diego-based biotech firm is teaming up with Cambridge, MA gene therapy company SmartPharm Therapeutics to develop a gene-encoded COVID-19 vaccine; it's also working with Chinese drugmaker Mabpharm on a fusion protein treatment for the disease.

Takis Biotech: Italian startup with just 25 employees is developing a vaccine with Stony Brook-based Applied DNA Sciences, with plans to begin human trials before the end of the year.

Themis Bioscience: Austrian biotech firm is part of a group, with the Institut Pasteur and the University of Pittsburgh, which received $4.9 million in initial funding from CEPI to build a COVID-19 vaccine modeled on the vaccine for measles.

Tonix Pharmaceuticals: New York-based pharma outfit is researching a potential COVID-19 vaccine based on the virus that causes horsepox.

Vaxart: San Francisco vaccine manufacturer Vaxart is working with Emergent Biosolutions to develop and manufacture an oral vaccine that can be taken as a tablet.

Vaxil: Israeli biotech startup began preclinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Zydus Cadila: Indian pharma company announced it would fast-track development of a COVID-19 vaccine in February.

Protective Equipment And Sanitizer:

Anheuser-Busch InBev: The world's largest beer company is making more than one million bottles of hand sanitizer from surplus alcohol at its breweries around the world.

Armani: Billionaire Giorgio Armani's luxury fashion brand converted all production at its Italian factories to manufacture single-use medical overalls on March 26.

Bacardi: The Bermuda-based spirits giant converted production at nine production facilities in Mexico, France, England, Italy, Scotland, Puerto Rico and the continental U.S. to make hand sanitizer.

BrewDog: Independent beermaker is making hand sanitizer at its distillery in Scotland.

Bulgari: The Italian luxury jeweler is manufacturing hand sanitizer with its fragrances partner, ICR, with plans to make hundreds of thousands of bottles by May.

Calzedonia Group: Italian retail clothing group, owned by billionaire Sandro Veronesi, converted production at several plants in Italy and Croatia to manufacture masks and medical gowns, with initial production of 10,000 masks a day.

Cantabria Labs: Spanish health products and cosmetics firm converted production at one of its factories to make hand sanitizer.

Consomed: Tunisian mask and medical equipment maker put all of its workers, more than 70% of which are reportedly women, on quarantine inside the company's Kairouan factory to maximize production of protective gear.

Decathlon: Sporting goods empire founded by French billionaire Michel Leclercq partnered with Isinnova, a small engineering and design firm based in Italy, to convert snorkeling masks into respirators.

Diageo: The maker of Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka donated two million liters of ethyl alcohol, a byproduct of the distillation process, to hand sanitizer manufacturers.

Fanatics: Billionaire Michael Rubin's online sportswear retailer converted its baseball jersey factory in Pennsylvania to make masks and gowns for medical workers.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: The multinational automaker announced on March 23 it would begin installing capacity to produce masks, which will be initially distributed in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Fippi: Italian diapers producer worked with the Lombardy region and the Polytechnic University of Milan to convert its factory to make up to 900,000 masks a day, which will go to frontline health workers facing a devastating outbreak in the region.

Gojo Industries: The Ohio-based maker of Purell, owned by a billionaire family, is prioritizing delivery of its ubiquitous hand sanitizers to health workers and first responders on the frontlines.

González Byass: Spanish spirits maker made three of its facilities and distilleries available to public health authorities for the production of hand sanitizer.

GVS: Family-owned Italian company is hiring more workers to expand production of ventilator filters and biohazard antivirus masks, destined for hospitals in Italy, the U.S. and China.

IKEA: Swedish furniture retailer is reportedly working with suppliers to increase production of masks, hand sanitizers, visors and aprons; the company also opened a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility with the UK's National Health Service at its store in the Wembley area of London.

Ineos: Billionaire James Ratcliffe's chemical powerhouse Ineos is building a new hand sanitizer plant in the UK — which will be ready in just 10 days — to produce a million bottles a month, and plans to build another in Germany.

L'Oréal: French cosmetics giant, part-owned by billionaire Françoise Bettencourt Meyers and her family, converted production at its North American plants to make hand sanitizer.

LVMH: On March 15, the luxury goods conglomerate led by Bernard Arnault — the world's third-richest person — converted production at its perfume plants in France to make antiseptic gel.

Massaflex: Italian mattress maker converted all production at its factory in Tuscany to make masks.

Medline: Northfield, Illinois family-owned manufacturer is ramping up production to supply medical masks, biohazard bags, surgical clothing and disinfectants to hospitals across the United States.

Menarini: Pharma firm, owned by Italian billionaire Massimiliana Landini Aleotti and her three children, converted a production line at its Florence factory to make disinfectant gel that will be distributed free of charge to Italy's civil protection agency.

Miroglio Group: Italian fashion group converted production at its factories in the northwestern Italian region of Piedmont to make up to 100,000 masks a day.

Pernod Ricard: French spirit maker's U.S. branch is producing hand sanitizer at four distilleries in Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas and West Virginia.

Prada: On March 23, the luxury fashion empire — led by billionaire couple Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli announced it would convert production at its factory in Perugia to make 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks for healthcare workers in the Tuscany region.

Top Glove: Malaysian medical glove maker, one of the world's largest, is ramping up production and has donated more than 5 million gloves to authorities in China and Malaysia.

Ventilators And Beds:

Airbus: The aircraft maker is part of a group of fifteen companies, the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium, which is partnering to build at least 10,000 ventilators for the British government.

BAE Systems: British aerospace company is part of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.

Bloom Energy: San Jose, California-based fuel cell maker is refurbishing unused and out-of-warranty ventilators in a partnership with Philadelphia-based appliance distributor Almo Corporation, which will then ship them to state agencies and hospitals across the U.S.

BreathDirect: Long Beach-based startup was recently established by Darren Saravis, CEO of medical device firm Nectar, to quickly produce 3,500 ventilators a week by May at $10,000 each.

Dyson: British billionaire James Dyson announced his vacuum cleaner and hand dryer firm would start designing and making 10,000 ventilators, with more to come.

Ford: Auto giant is working with 3M and GE's healthcare unit to make ventilators, respirators and face shields at its manufacturing sites; Ford and GE Healthcare announced on March 30 that they would produce 50,000 ventilators by July 8 with plans to increase production to 30,000 a month.

General Motors: The auto titan announced on March 27 it would start building ventilators at its Kokomo, IN plant in a partnership with medical device maker Ventec Life Systems, as well as producing masks at a factory in Michigan. Hours later, President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to compel GM to "accept, perform and prioritize federal contracts for ventilators."

GKN Aerospace: British aerospace firm is a member of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.

Inspiration Healthcare: British medical devices maker is part of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.

Mahindra Group: Mumbai-based conglomerate, owned by billionaire Anand Mahindra and his family, announced it would begin producing ventilators at plants in India, reportedly pricing them at less than $100 each.

Malvestio: Italian maker of ICU and hospital beds is ramping up production by 30-40% to meet a surge in demand for its beds from hospitals in Italy.

Medtronic: Minnesota-based medical device maker publicly shared the design specifications for its basic ventilator model, with the goal of helping other companies quickly manufacture ventilators.

Meggitt: British aerospace and defense components maker is a member of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.

Penlon: Oxford-based medical device maker is part of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.

Philips: The Dutch multinational is doubling production of pulmonary ventilators, with plans to quadruple it by the third quarter of 2020.

Rolls-Royce: The luxury carmaker is a member of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.

SIARE Engineering: Italy's largest ventilator producer enlisted the help of Italian army technicians and employees from Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari to ramp up production.

Smiths Group: British engineering firm is part of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.

Thales Group: French aerospace multinational is a member of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.

Ultra Electronics: British defense systems provider is part of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.

Supporting Healthcare Workers And First Responders:

Airbnb: The peer-to-peer home rental company, cofounded by billionaires Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia, is providing housing for 100,000 COVID-19 responders in homes volunteered by Airbnb hosts around the world.

Carbyne: New York startup's emergency response tool, backed by Peter Thiel's VC fund, is being used by 911 responders in New Orleans to track patients by video screening callers.

Faculty: London-based AI firm is collaborating with the UK's National Health Service to develop models and simulations to help the British government's data response strategy to the pandemic.

GlobeKeeper: Tel Aviv-based security app developer worked with Israel's Health Ministry to launch a voluntary tracking app which allows users to report their exposure to COVID-19; the company is reportedly rolling out its own coronavirus-tracking app, named SAFE, in India next week with plans to expand to other countries.

GoPuff: Late-night delivery app popular with college students is pivoting to deliver essential supplies to healthcare workers at hospitals in Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Inditex: The Spanish fast fashion giant behind Zara and other brands, majority-owned by billionaire Amancio Ortega, is making its logistics and procurement network available to the Spanish government to coordinate supply of materials needed to make masks, gloves, face shields and other protective equipment.

Palantir: Big data firm, cofounded and chaired by billionaire Peter Thiel, is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the UK's National Health Service on coronavirus-tracking software based on its data gathering and analysis technology platform, Palantir Foundry.

Uber: Ride-hailing app cofounded by billionaires Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp pledged 10 million free rides and food deliveries for healthcare workers, senior citizens and others in need.

Zoom: The company's billionaire founder, Eric Yuan, made the firm's popular video conferencing software free to use for all affected K-12 schools in China, Japan, Italy and the U.S.

How do I make someone redundant? – small business redundancy guide - http://smallbusiness.co.uk

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 07:42 AM PDT

 Businessman using mobile phone in boardroom, small business redundancy concept

Hard decision: many small business owners are having to make people redundant

The Covid-19 pandemic is having far-reaching consequences for businesses across the globe. Many have found that demand for their goods and services has fallen away drastically while others are prevented from operating due to government lockdowns. Other employers have been forced to consider redundancies in order to cut staff costs, but any small business based in the UK should give thought to other measures available before proceeding with redundancy as a last resort.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The newly announced Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme provides vital and unprecedented support to business to help pay their staff wages during the current crisis. The scheme offers employers reimbursements of up to 80 per cent of "furloughed workers" wage costs capped at £2,500 per month, in addition to other costs to employers. Furloughed workers are those who have no work to do, and they must not carry out any work while they are furloughed.

One of the key elements of the scheme is that it applies to those who would otherwise have been "laid-off". For most employers the alternative to placing an employee on the furlough scheme would be to make their role redundant, and indeed the guidance from the government is that the scheme is designed to "avoid redundancies".

'Employees are more likely to accept temporary changes to their employment terms if they are well-informed'

This might suggest that in many cases the employer should therefore at least initiate a redundancy exercise to identify whose role is currently redundant and would be eligible for the scheme.

To try to prevent having to complete a redundancy process, employers may choose to invite applications from employees into the furlough scheme, and if all applicable employees volunteer to be placed on the scheme it wouldn't be necessary at the time of furloughing to complete the consultation usually needed during a redundancy. (Although, employers should be aware that if the redundancy process is re-initiated, say once the furlough scheme comes to an end, the usual consultation obligations will still need to be complied with.)

Currently the scheme is set to cover wage costs for the period from March 1 to May 31 2020 but the government has made clear that they will extend this if necessary.

>See also: 7 ways to cut staff costs during the coronavirus crisis

Small business redundancy

Although, the government hopes that the job retention scheme will avoid the need for many redundancies to be made, it is possible that some employers will still need to consider redundancies – either because the business itself is to close or because employees do not agree to be assigned as furloughed workers.

If redundancies are necessary (and here we assume that it would be a smaller scale redundancy exercise that will apply to less than 20 employees in any establishment/site within a rolling period of 90 days, employers will need to ensure that they follow a fair process.

What a fair process looks like in practice will differ depending on the scale of the business and the roles at risk of redundancy.

Redundancy – a step-by-step guide

However, the three key elements typically needed to show a fair process are as follows:

  • Employees to be placed at risk of redundancy must be selected fairly (ideally using objective criteria)
  • Employees must be warned of the redundancy and the reasons for it must be explained
  • Employees must be allowed the opportunity to consider and comment on the employer's proposals, such as their selection, as well as suggesting alternative roles that may be available, during a consultation process

There is no set statutory procedure for a small-scale redundancy, but typically a redundancy process will consist of:

  • Three meetings with each individual at risk of redundancy; these meetings should take place over a period of seven to ten days
  • The first meeting is generally used to place the individual at risk of redundancy, explain the reasons for this and to advise them of the consultation process
  • At the second meeting the employee should be allowed to provide any suggested alternatives to redundancy for consideration and the employer employee should consider suitable alternative roles that might be available
  • If by the third and final meeting there is no suitable alternative role and the decision is that the employee's role is redundant, this should be confirmed in writing; and employees should be advised that they can appeal against the decision (in which case an appeal meeting should take place)

While in most cases employees will be financially better off agreeing to be placed on the furlough scheme as opposed to selecting redundancy, there may be some long-standing employees, or those who work for companies who have large contractual redundancy payments, where redundancy is a preferable option.

Employers should bear in mind that at the end of the furlough scheme they may need to reassess business needs and some furloughed employees may become redundant at that time.

Alternatives to redundancy

For business that are still operating, for example where employees can work from home (i.e. they cannot be furloughed), there may still be a reduction in business and a need to reduce staff and costs. In these circumstances there are other alternatives to the furlough scheme or redundancies worth considering. While this contractual term is not common and is generally restricted to specific industries (such as manufacturing), some employers have a contractual right to "lay-off" workers or put them on "short-time working". This means that employers can force employees to stop working with no pay or reduce their hours to temporarily reduce staff costs.

>See also – Short-time working and lay-offs – what's the difference?

Where employers do not have contractual "lay-off" or "short time working" provisions, they may want to consider requesting employees accept a temporary cut in working hours and associated cut in salary, and/or requesting employees to agree a reduction in salary without an associated cut in working hours. Because these changes will mean a change to the terms of employees' contracts they will need to be agreed in advance with each employee.

Whatever a small business decides to do about redundancy, honest and open dialogue with your employees can make a significant difference. Employees are more likely to accept temporary changes to their employment terms if they are well-informed about the challenges, difficulties and pressures the business faces, and the steps the business is taking to protect their jobs by keeping the business afloat.

Mike Tremeer is a partner at Fladgate LLP

Further reading on coronavirus

Nearly 1m businesses on brink of collapse, warn accountants

How fintech can save small businesses on the brink - American Banker

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 07:59 AM PDT

The enduring image of the global coronavirus pandemic is a "closed" sign in every storefront, with formerly bustling Main Streets turned into ghost towns thanks to shelter-in-place orders and mandatory lockdowns.

The foot traffic is gone but rent, payroll and other expenses are not. The novel coronavirus is stressing the global economy in unprecedented ways — and some small businesses may never recover.

It may seem a cliche to claim that small businesses are the "lifeblood" of the American economy; but there is nothing "small" about small business. America's 30.7 million small businesses employed nearly 60 million people, or 47.3% of the private workforce, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration's 2019 profile.

Even in good economic times, America's small businesses typically operate with a thin margin for error. Unlike larger companies that have cash cushions to help weather short-term dips in revenue, the median small business has only 27 days of cash to survive without income.

A Goldman Sachs study released in March found that more than half of small businesses have less than three months of cash reserves. Swift action is needed to provide small businesses with cash infusions and other support.

Congress is taking action with a $2 trillion stimulus package that allocates funds for small business. In reality though, the government will be hard-pressed to fulfill its own directives, due to its agencies' reliance on aging processes and technology. Similar challenges face banks and fintechs tasked with distributing the funds.

To illustrate the challenge, a McKinsey report projects that processing of loans under the Small Business Administration's Section 7 program — the primary relief vehicle for most small firms — will need to increase from the $4.5 billion in the past two months, to $350 billion in the next 60 days. That is an eightyfold increase that must occur almost instantly.

Government agencies are simply not built to handle the vast numbers of inquiries, applications and decision-making that will be required to distribute these funds, soundly and in time.

Fundamentally, government agencies are built on 20th-century technology that is not ready for a 21st-century crises like a global pandemic. For small businesses, bottlenecks and delays are likely to arise through the process of disbursing relief funds.

Success will also require onboarding new lenders, including fintechs, into SBA programs. The number of small businesses that need help is staggering, so any solutions must be able to withstand a national scale at launch.

Fortunately, there are technological tools to help solve these challenges. However, most agencies don't have ready access to these tools, and will be challenged to stand it up in the next few weeks.

Creative solutions are cropping up. Arnold Kling has proposed that banks should automatically add an overdraft line of credit to every account — for both businesses and consumers — backed by the federal government.

Ideas have surfaced for using chatbots to relieve stress on overloaded SBA (and unemployment) call centers. A proposal that the Federal Reserve issue "digital dollars" was not included in the new stimulus package but has sparked dialogue on expediting flows of payments using the technology of cryptocurrency and stable coins.

In this problem-solving spirit, the Alliance of Innovative Regulation, or Air (my nonprofit), hosted a hackathon this weekend to build prototype tools to accelerate and scale up small-business rescue funds.

Eight teams — consisting of more than 60 people from banks, fintechs and nonprofits in the U.S. and Europe — teamed up for 48 hours to build solutions. At the end, the teams demonstrated their prototypes to each other, and observers from industry and government.

Each team tackled a different problem. Some proposed front-end tools to help applicants navigate eligibility and document requirements for obtaining rapid approval. Others built tools that can quickly disburse the funds. Still others created ways to manage forgiveness requirements, prevent fraud and dovetail new tech with existing infrastructure.

A report will come out later this week that captures the initiatives, along with a follow-up event to help fine-tune the teams' starter ideas as government guidance is more concrete.

This is just one example of how the private and public sector can come together quickly to aid small-business owners facing the prospect of mass extinction. This is the time to bring the government's relief resources to these small companies, using digital-age technology.

Some confusion surrounds coronavirus-related small business loans in Tennessee - Washington Examiner

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 08:00 AM PDT

Tennessee small businesses are eligible for up to $10 million each in forgivable loans as part of the $2 trillion federal COVID-19 relief package, but some business owners are struggling to understand how to comply with the rules.

Like in many states, restrictions enacted by Gov. Bill Lee have caused many businesses to scale back services or temporarily shut down. Restaurants cannot provide dine-in services and nonessential businesses have been forced to close.

Under the Paycheck Protection Program in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a small business, which is usually classified as a business that employs 500 or fewer people, is eligible for forgivable loans. A business can borrow 250 percent of its average monthly payroll expenses, up to $10 million. The government allocated $350 billion for this program.

Expenses that cover payroll, existing interest payments on mortgages, rent payments, leases and utility service agreements are eligible to be forgiven. The loans can be used on other expenses, but those expenses would not be forgiven.

Todd Pack, the Tennessee state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, told The Center Square he hopes the loans will help keep small businesses afloat, but that it's not yet clear how the loans will work.

"The biggest problems we're hearing from the ground today are understanding how to comply with [Families First Coronavirus Response Act] and CARES with effective dates looming and needed guidance," Pack said in an email.

Employers are getting requests from employees to be laid off so they can take advantage of the federal $600 weekly unemployment benefit that's combined with Tennessee's $275-a-week maximum benefit, said Pack, who also noted business owners were having problems with the Small Business Administration's loan website.

Pack said the most important thing governments can do is get money out the door. He said businesses still are awaiting specifics and the sooner the guidance is issued, the sooner businesses can see relief. He said every day matters.

Chris Edwards, the director of tax policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, raised concerns about the approach of the federal government and state governments.

Edwards told The Center Square these loans will function essentially as grants because the government will forgive most of them. He said that these costs will be added to the $23 trillion debt taxpayers ultimately will need to pay back.

Although Edwards said these loans will help some businesses stay afloat, he noted the loans also come with some strings attached. Because of this, he said it is sometimes risky for businesses to take the loans because of disputes with the government that could erupt afterward.

With the possibility of businesses being closed for months, Edwards said the government needs to focus on ways to get businesses back up and running in a safe way. He said less strict restrictions, such as a 10-patron limit, often can be better than forcing a business to close completely.

The CARES Act is designed to fund measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 and to relieve some of the economic burdens it has caused for businesses, individuals and state and local governments.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus.

Tennessee has 2,239 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 175 hospitalizations and 23 deaths, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The U.S. has more than 185,000 cases and at least 3,789 deaths.

COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.

'The stimulus programs are important to us': Small businesses look to federal stimulus funds to maintain payroll and rent - Richmond.com

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 02:15 PM PDT

Just a month ago, the Richmond-based startup company Naborforce was seeing its business grow at a substantial pace.

Then came the coronavirus outbreak, forcing the company to drastically scale back its business, which provides an online platform that enables people called "Nabors" to earn some extra cash by providing neighborly services such as grocery shopping and household chores to senior citizens or other homebound people.

"Obviously, we are at the eye of the storm," Naborforce founder Paige Wilson said.  "Our entire business is built around connection, and especially connection with seniors."

Instead of connecting with seniors, Wilson has spent much of this week applying for the federal government stimulus money available to small businesses after Congress approved the CARES Act, or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

"I think all of the stimulus programs are important to us," Wilson said.

The $2.2 trillion economic stimulus law includes almost $350 billion in federally guaranteed loans for small firms with fewer than 500 employees under what is called the "Paycheck Protection Program." The loans are forgivable if the funds are spent on payroll, and interest on rent, mortgage and utilities.

The loans are expected to be available starting Friday April 3 for businesses, although it may take longer for some businesses to see the money.

The stimulus program is designed around protecting and preserving payrolls as much as possible - businesses can apply for loans for as much as 2.5 times their average monthly payroll costs, though it does exclude salary amounts in excess of $100,000.

So a hypothetical business that had $10,000 in average monthly payroll could quality for a loan of $25,000. There are limits on how much of the loan is forgivable, depending on how the business uses the loan money and how many of its employees it keeps on its payroll.

"The whole point of the program is to encourage small businesses to keep people employed even when they don't have the revenue to do that today," said Bruce Whitehurst, president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Bankers Association.

Most banks in Virginia also are trying to work with businesses impacted by the coronavirus on loan extensions, Whitehurst said.

"What I am hearing as the norm for small business loans and commercial loans is up to a six-month extension on loans," he said. "I think you would be hard pressed to find a bank not doing that."

Businesses should work with their accountant and bankers to access the loans, said those with the Henrico County-based accounting firm of Keiter.

Business owners also should be prepared to have documentation available to apply for the stimulus loans, especially quarterly and annual payroll reports, said Matt Austin, managing director at Keiter, and Scott Zickefoose, a senior director for Keiter.

"There is going to be a lot that is clarified" in the coming weeks, Austin said. "For any business it would be smart to make sure you coordinate and stay in touch with your lender, your [legal] counsel if you have one, and your accountant."

Among other highlights of the loan program:

• The loans are available through financial institutions approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Applications for loans are also posted on the U.S. Treasury Department's website at home.treasury.gov.

• The loans are generally available to businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees, though there is some flexibility on the number of employees depending on the industry.

• Sole proprietors, independent contractors, self-employed individuals and veteran's organizations with fewer than 500 employees also are eligible.

• The loan amount cannot exceed $10 million. Loans are available through June 30, though the fund could quickly be depleted, Austin said.

• Payroll costs can include salaries, tips, commissions, vacation pay, parental leave pay, the employer-paid portion of group health-care benefits, retirement benefits, state and local tax associated with compensation, and payments to any independent contractor.

While the loans are expected to be available starting Friday for businesses, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply starting April 10.

"There is some information that the loans are going to be available in a one- to two-week timeline," said Barry Duval, president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. "Obviously, every week is important to a small business."

"The [chamber] members I have spoken with are desperate for solutions today, and they are looking for help immediately," Duval said. "If there is one concern I have about government programs, it is the speed to market. I think it is yet to be proven if the speed to market is good enough."

Todd Curran, founder and CEO of Richmond-based Savage Apparel Co., a maker of sports apparel for amateur athletics such as ultimate Frisbee and dodgeball leagues, said his company is seeking  both loans through the payroll protection program and applying for an emergency, economic injury grant of up to $10,000 through the SBA, a separate relief program of the stimulus.

The company completed a merger early this year with Seattle-based Five Ultimate, along with its sister company ARIA Discs, a producer of ultimate discs, before the coronavirus pandemic hit. The company was looking to add more employees.

But then it had to furlough about half of its 31 employees, many of whom worked at the company's office and production operations off West Brookland Park Boulevard in North Richmond.

"Anything is good right now" to help the company bridge the economic crisis, Curran said.

The emergency loans, which are also part of the stimulus bill, "allows us to keep some of the people on payroll while we wait for the [payroll protection] loan to come through," he said. "It allows us to jumpstart instead of waiting."

He hopes the company will see a return in demand once social distancing rules are eased and people can get back to sports activities.

Naborforce, which was serving the Richmond and Charlottesville markets and planning to expand into the Williamsburg and Raleigh, N.C., markets before the pandemic, is still trying to offer some services such as grocery drop-offs, and it continues to get inquiries from people looking to become "nabors."

But social distancing rules and the sudden, dramatic downturn in the economy have forced the startup to cut back on its staff from four full-time employees and one contractor to just two full-time employees. Naborforce's Wilson hopes to be able to use the stimulus funds to keep her staff working and maintain the platform.

"The very at-risk population we were serving, we cannot serve in the manner we were" because of social distancing and "stay-at-home" rules now in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Wilson said. She described the situation now as "heartbreaking to say the least, because actually in some ways our clients need us more now than ever."

It is also "heartbreaking from a revenue standpoint."

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