Many states and cities are imposing complete or partial lockdowns, with most businesses forced to temporarily shut their doors or move to remote work and only “essential businesses” unaffected. This has left many employers and employees asking what exactly counts as an essential business.
What Counts as an Essential Business?
On March 19, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA, overseen by the Department of Homeland Security) issued guidance on what business count as critical infrastructure. Some businesses are obviously essential—hospitals, pharmacies and law enforcement. The list is extensive—other essential businesses include stores selling supplies which allow people to work from home, media organizations and certain financial institutions.
However, CISA guidance is not mandatory, and what counts as an essential business will often be a judgement call at a local level. Depending on the state or locality, essential businesses can also include marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores and breweries.
Remember, even in an essential business, any employee who can do their job remotely should be allowed to do so. This reduces crowding on the streets and in the workplace, and ultimately makes things safer for everyone in the community. For those who can’t work remotely, companies should do their best to create a safe work environment and always encourage social distancing at work.
There may also be parts of an essential business that are deemed non-essential. For instance, in many states restaurants can continue to operate but can only provide delivery service. So, while chefs will be counted as essential employees, servers may not.
That’s why it’s important to be clear to all employees whether your business is essential and whether they will be counted as essential employees. If possible this should be done before any shelter-in-place or similar lockdown is announced, so that employees can take the necessary steps to prepare.
If your status as an essential or non-essential business is unclear to you, reach out to your local authorities for guidance.
Who Needs an Essential Business Letter?
An essential business letter has two main purposes:
- To inform essential employees
- To be presented if employees are questioned
While this is definitely time to over-communicate with employees to reassure them about their roles and what’s required of them, it can also be helpful to give them official confirmation of their status as an essential employee. As employees all across the country are advised to stay home whenever possible, an Essential Business Letter can offer useful proof of the importance of an employee continuing to come to work.
While not the case currently, if states enforce more severe procedures it is possible that employees may be asked to provide evidence that they work for essential businesses. It’s also important to provide some sort of contact details, so law enforcement can contact the relevant company to verify that the letter is genuine.
What Should an Essential Business Letter Include?
Here’s a checklist of what an essential business letter needs to include:
- An Employee’s name
- The Name of Your Business
- The Address of Your Business
- Information on the Service Your Business Provides
- The Employee’s Typical Work Schedule
- A Contact Number for Your Business
- The signature of a relevant executive
Get a Customizable Essential Business Letter Template
SMB leaders have a lot on their plates right now. To help you out, Paycor is sharing an Essential Business Letter Template which can be adapted to the specific circumstances of your business.
Once downloaded, you can easily edit the language as required.
Get Essential Business Letter Template
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