There is no doubt that the hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit by COVID-19, with business shutting down in mid-March as part of the desperate effort to contain the spread of the virus. Restaurants are the fourth largest employer in the country, providing more than 1.3 million jobs and representing 7% of the Canadian workforce. Equally important, restaurants are central to much of the fabric of our daily lives, places where we gather, celebrate and connect. What’s next for this truly essential part of our communities?
As restaurant owners and operators pivot their business models to focus on delivery and takeout during dine-in bans, pandemic-related shifts in consumer demand and behavior could have greater effects. durable. Restaurants already have tight profit margins and probably don’t have huge reserves of financial cash set aside – so what does that mean now, in the midst of a global health crisis?
In these uncertain times, Susan Hodkinson, COO and Partner, Human Resources Consulting, offers answers to some of the questions we receive from our clients in the hospitality industry.
How can I support my employees and ensure they are taken care of?
We hear that one of our clients’ main concerns is the well-being of their most important asset: their people. The employees who helped build businesses and lay the foundations for success now face a whole new set of hurdles. We know how hard it is to find great people to work with, let alone keep them hired and employed.
Most catering restaurants have not been able to keep all of their staff employed as before; however, there are immediate benefits opportunities available to provide benefits to employees and relief and flexibility to owner-operators.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
The Government of Canada has implemented a wage subsidy program for eligible employers, which reimburses businesses for a portion of wages paid to employees during the crisis. The hope is that, with the government covering some of these payments, companies will be able to either rehire staff or keep their employees on the payroll.
The subsidy covers 75% of an employee’s salary on the first $58,700 of salary, which equals $847 per week. The government expects employers to add another 25%, bringing the annual total to $58,700. Learn how to apply for CEWS here.
Supplementary Unemployment Benefit (SUB) Scheme
Employers can apply for registration of a benefit plan to supplement the earnings of employees who receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
Employers can supplement employees’ earnings up to 95% of their regular income, allowing them to pay additional contributions to employees without affecting their EI benefits. Employers must submit a copy of their SUB plan along with a SUB plan enrollment form to Service Canada. Learn more about the program Service Canada and access our SUB plan template here.
My business is struggling to pay rent. What can I do?
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords, covering 50% of monthly rent for April, May and June. Indeed, commercial property owners will receive 75% of their pre-coronavirus rental income for April, May and June – 50% funded by the government in the form of these forgivable loans and 25% received directly from the tenant.
What happens if an employee refuses to work for fear of contracting COVID-19?
the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) gives a worker the right to refuse work that they consider unsafe for themselves or for another worker. Employees cannot be terminated for exercising a COVID-19 work refusal if they believe in good faith that they can contract the disease through their work.
If you can absorb the loss of these employees, you should give them unpaid leave and allow them to be absent. If employees are absolutely necessary for your operations, you should let them know that they are required to come to work, but you should put in place all reasonable precautions to protect them (i.e.: masks, gloves, adequate hygiene, etc.).
If the employee considers this to be an unsafe work environment, consult provincial health and safety legislation for guidelines regarding alleged unsafe work refusal.
It’s also important for restaurateurs to think about ensuring safety not just now, but in the future, in the post-COVID-19 world. For example, many believe that salad bars, buffets and drink stations will become a relic of the past. Start thinking about what your employees and customers will be comfortable with as you browse.
What strategic business plans should I consider for the long term, post-COVID-19?
Smart business planning is essential, but in reality no one could have anticipated or planned for a crisis of this magnitude. Thinking about what businesses will look like in the future will require flexible and intuitive thinking.
Ask yourself: “What might change in the future? As social distancing restrictions are lifted, how long will it take for your restaurant to get back up and running? Will you be reopening on a phased and reduced basis (ie: from only 50% capacity)? What will you need for staff? What physical changes to the installation will you need to make to the front and back of the house? Do you have the right insurance policies in place?
Make sure you have a plan ready so that when the restrictions are lifted, you’ll be ready to get back to business and work to bring the income stream back.
Why have I been denied access to certain government aids and benefits related to COVID-19?
When starting a business, it can be frustrating for small employers and seem like more of a burden to comply with HR rules and regulations set by the Province of Ontario. However, these are times when if you do not comply with local HR regulations, you will find it even more difficult to access the financial aid and benefits that exist. Companies that have ignored regulations such as minimum wage requirements or labor laws may find themselves ineligible for available benefits. Taking shortcuts in HR has consequences and will cost you more in the long run. Getting it right and meeting the requirements the first time pays off, instead of trying to catch up and fix existing issues in the middle of a pandemic. A review of practices and protocols should be part of your recovery plan.
How can I protect my brand reputation during this crisis?
Later, companies and their leaders will be judged on how they have handled (or failed to handle) the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that it is not a question of knowing whether they lived through the crisis or not; it’s about how they handled it and how they recovered. The silver lining throughout this pandemic is the opportunity to enhance your brand. Is your brand synonymous with comfort and safety? Is your brand about caring for people and nurturing them? Demonstrate your company’s core values to your staff, suppliers and customers
nowwill bear fruit in the future.
Are there other financial relief measures that my restaurant would be eligible for?
From Work-Sharing to wage subsidies, we cover a comprehensive summary of government benefits your company may be eligible for in our detailed roundup of relief measures, updated regularly.
How can Crowe Soberman help you?
In these uncertain times, it is essential to remain agile and proactive in the face of the evolving COVID-19 situation. Having timely access to financial experts, information and news as quickly as possible is essential, and that’s where we can help.
We’ve created a dedicated COVID-19 Resource Center, highlighting areas of business operations that will likely be impacted by the coronavirus. Whether you need to discuss your current financial situation and learn about your options, or want to be guided through the appropriate cash management strategies for your business, our team of experts is ready to help. help you every step of the way. . Do not hesitate to contact your Crowe Soberman professionals for assistance during these difficult times.
We are in the same boat.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.