Businesses now confront a novel circumstance. Many are trying to restart business operations after abruptly closing or substantially limiting operations in the middle of March or even longer ago. Businesses that once thought they could not quickly shutdown discovered how to accomplish that task. Now they have an even greater challenge of restarting business activities, even in the midst of great uncertainty. The legal issues that business will confront are interwoven with practical issues. And all this occurs with a great sense of urgency because of the economic consequences of a closed business.
Restarting business operations, whether from a full stop or partial shutdown, requires consideration of many interconnected issues. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as issuing an email to employees to report for work on Monday morning. To prepare for a restart, these are some of the key actions every company should take:
- Create a task force or coordinator to identify key individuals and designate specific responsibilities during the restart process, to prepare a succinct list of directly relevant policies and practices, and to coordinate communication during the restart process.
- Communicate with customers and vendors about procedures before restart.
- Communicate with all third parties, including (as necessary) lenders, so that company actions are not a surprise to anyone.
- Discuss protocols with suppliers and service providers based upon applicable safety issues.
- Contact insurance broker to review coverage issues upon business restart.
Our corporate attorneys assist clients in many industries and business sectors. Based upon these experiences, our team continues to assist clients with specific issues created by these circumstances. Common projects include:
- Reviewing existing agreements to assess terms applicable to changed circumstances
- Revising agreements to change risk allocation
- Preparing new agreements for new or updated services, such as cleaning, security, and testing
- Assessing compliance obligations for regulated businesses and activities
Critical to all businesses throughout this process is effective, timely, and accurate communication to all relevant constituents. The uncertain and changing regulatory environment, impacted by multiple agencies federal, state, and local executive orders, requires businesses to seek regular legal guidance from corporate attorneys to ensure accurate communication. Legal advisors at McDonald Hopkins have extensive experience and complement internal teams that many businesses have assembled to sort through these issues and to continue to assist with implementation of changes throughout the ramp up or restart of business activities.