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Pragmatic, effective strategies to help your business navigate the COVID-19 crisis - Preserve your workforce

02/04/2020


With news about the global coronavirus pandemic continually evolving, business owners are understandably confused and worried. There are immense risks amidst the disruption we are all experiencing — but also new opportunities to serve your customers and position your company for post-pandemic success.

This is a crucial time for business leaders to navigate carefully. Throughout this five-part series, we will provide you with current information, practical suggestions and helpful resources to keep your business on a safe pathway through disruption — and position it for accelerated success when the coronavirus crisis has passed. 

  1. Stretch cash flow
  2. Preserve your workforce
  3. Reinforce revenue
  4. Demonstrate strong leadership

Preserve your workforce

Your workforce is essential to the survival of your business. While employers strive to contain financial losses, COVID-19 threatens both the health and the employment of valued workers. Following are some suggestions for protecting these important resources.

Support remote work, where possible

Moving some employees out of the workplace and into a safer work-at-home environment where feasible can also reduce overhead and operating costs. Several practices are key to making this productive.  

Remote work policy – Specify your expectations for remote work, including instructions for employees’ work schedules, overtime and ensuring secure data management practices.

Appropriate technology – Employees will need a computer, email, access to internal networks and teleconferencing capability.

Secure connection — Remote work requires a secure Wi-Fi network and a virtual private network (VPN) that encrypts data and protects it from interception.

Communication and collaboration – Workers need to stay in touch with managers and colleagues through communication and project collaboration tools. More about this in Part 3: Strengthen IT infrastructure.

The Canada Work Sharing Program

Layoffs may be accelerating, but the federal government’s Work Sharing program through Employment and Social Development Canada can help you keep your workers during a temporary downturn in business.

Employers can reduce the number of hours employees work per week while this program supplements their pay directly through EI. Coverage has been expanded from 38 to 76 weeks, the waiting period has been waived and recovery requirements have been eased.

Companies can access this funding in 10 days after they apply, you do not need to prove that your revenue was impacted but you do need to show that your work volumes have reduced.

Speak with your MNP advisor for information about eligibility or for help accessing relevant support.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Program (as of April 1st, 2020)

To help Canadians and businesses get through these tough economic times, the government is proposing to introduce a wage subsidy of 75 per cent for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 2020.

The program would apply for a 12-week period from March 15 to June 6, 2020, and eligible companies would receive a benefit of up to $847 per week (which is for an employee that makes an annualized pay of $58,700).

The funds and the program are not operational as of today. The application portal for the Wage Subsidy will take at minimum 3 to 6 weeks before the government estimates that the application portal will be online.

  1. The CRA Portal will take 3-6 weeks to become fully operational.
  2. Administrative details are still to be finalized over the coming weeks. More details are to be released regarding special situations (start-ups, delayed revenue etc.).
  3. A 30% decline in revenue needs to be demonstrated year-over-year (i.e.. March 2019 to March 2020). This may disqualify your company if you are unable to prove it.
  4. Companies will have to re-apply for April and May and prove consistent YOY declines in revenues.
  5. Employers must show some effort to top up the remaining 25% of wages; this will be done on a case by case basis and there have been no details released related to employer obligations or the review mechanism that will be used to confirm this.

Why this program may not be right for you

  1. If there is not enough Cash Flow to maintain operations until the program subsidy is fully operational in 8 to 10 weeks.
  2. If the anticipated slow down in work volume is greater than 13 weeks and you have no contingency plans for after the Wage Subsidy program.
  3. If you do not have a clear year-over-year revenue decline for March, April, and May of 30% or more.

If this program is not for you for the reasons above, you may want to consider the Work Sharing program through Employment and Social Development Canada.

 

Prepare for Business Interruption during the COVID-19 Pandemic

MNP’s National Leaders of Enterprise Risk and Business Resilience, Mariesa Carbone and Cliff Trollope, prepared a guide to help businesses develop appropriate plans to minimize business disruption during the coronavirus pandemic: Preparing your organization for business interruption from COVID-19.

Find an advisor near you

Our experienced professionals are here to help you make the best possible decisions. If you do not currently have an MNP advisor, complete this brief online form to help us determine your needs and concerns and an appropriate MNP professional will be in touch within 24 hours.

Learn more at MNP's COVID-19 Business Advice Centre

Strategies and tools to help your company navigate the coronavirus crisis, stay resilient and take the next steps towards recovery.

Yohaan Thommy, PMP, CMC, is a Partner with MNP’s Consulting Services team and leads the firm’s national performance improvement practice. You can reach him at [email protected] or 905.220.3211

Daniel Caringi is a Partner with MNP’s Consulting and Technology Solutions team. You can reach him at [email protected] or 416.626.6000