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Advice for Businesses in Dealing with the Expanding Coronavirus Events

Updated April 2, 2020

The expanding scope of the Coronavirus has created uncertainty and anxiety on a global scale, encompassing both public health and economic impacts. As business leaders around the world grapple with a wide range of questions, Paul Hastings is here to help.

We have established an interdisciplinary task force to advise clients on these critical concerns, in light of the evolving crisis and the continuing flow of information and issues. Please reach out to any of our lawyers listed on this page to discuss issues or concerns specific to your business.

We have also created this web hub to help our clients stay up to date on the latest insights from our lawyers, as well as other useful information and resources related to the Coronavirus. In addition, we recommend following the latest updates from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control.

Labor & Employment

Financial Regulation & The CARES ACT

Real Estate & Hospitality

Europe

Asset Management

Tax Law

Disputes

Privacy & Cybersecurity

Contractual Considerations

SEC and CFTC Issue Additional Relief to Address Growing Coronavirus Concerns
As a part of our ongoing coverage of actions taken by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) in response to COVID-19 (“coronavirus”), we provide a further update of the agencies’ recent statements and orders relating to the impact of the current crisis. 
COVID-19 Webinar: Workforce Planning
The spread of the Coronavirus places immediate demands on business leaders to adjust their workforce to current economic conditions. Our webinar will discuss critical employment, insurance, tax and benefit issues clients need to consider – both for non-unionized and unionized workforces.
Covid-19 Briefing: Webinar
What Your Company Needs To Know Now About The COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place and Business Closure Orders
Webinar: COVID-19: Employment Update
Our interdisciplinary task force hosted a complimentary webinar to address critical concerns regarding COVID-19.
Public Health Orders Overview and Preemptive Measures
State and Local governments across the United States are increasingly issuing “shelter-in-place” or similar public health orders. Although it initially appeared most governmental agencies would use the orders issued by the San Francisco Bay Area counties as a national model, that no longer appears to be the case, and recent orders issued by Pennsylvania and California are vague and adding confusion for individuals and companies looking for guidance. From initial advice assisting clients in their compliance with these orders we have already developed some lessons that should be incorporated by companies in operating in current and future shelter-in-place jurisdictions.
Unprecedented Government Help for U.K. Employers
Today, the U.K. Government has announced an unprecedented intervention to help U.K. employers, and the most stringent measures to date to enforce its social distancing strategy. The announcement will have an immediate impact on the U.K.’s hospitality and leisure sectors and on the steps that U.K. employers are considering right now to manage and/or reduce their payroll costs to ensure the on-going viability of their businesses.
Tax Provisions of Senate GOP Draft of Third COVID-19 Relief Bill
Senate Republicans released a third COVID-19 relief package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), on Thursday afternoon, with negotiations with Senate Democrats to begin on Friday.
New Legislation on Paid Sick Leave and Employer Tax Credits
On March 18, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”), which includes a public health emergency leave, mandatory emergency paid sick leave, and refundable payroll tax credits for small and medium-sized employers for the public health emergency leave and emergency paid sick leave provided to their employees who are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19.
New York Executive Order Requires Businesses to Reduce In-Office Workforce
Today New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order mandating businesses that rely on in-office personnel to decrease their in-office workforce by 75 percent.[1] The order does not apply to “essential service industries,” which include “shipping, media, warehousing, grocery and food production, pharmacies, healthcare providers, utilities, banks and related financial institutions, and other industries critical to the supply chain.” The order is intended to help contain the spread of COVID-19, and follows the Governor’s directive on Wednesday, March 18, which required businesses to decrease their in-office workforce by 50 percent.
State Tax Filing Guidance for COVID-19
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (“AICPA”) has compiled a spreadsheet regarding the tax filing relief being provided by each state in light of COVID-19. The document summarizes various announcements, legislation, and executive decisions and includes hyperlinks to the related source material.
The Cybersecurity Implications of an Entire Organization Working from Home
As organizations continue to monitor the Coronavirus (“COVID-19”), many have announced work-from-home (“telework”) policies to mitigate the spread of the outbreak. The scope and speed at which entire workforces have gone remote pose complex challenges for organizations that may not be prepared for, nor maintain the hardware or software to accommodate, a wholly remote operation. Most companies were not built for this, and need to ensure their surge migration to remote working is executed securely.
U.S. Senate passes COVID-19 package
On Wednesday, March 18th, the US Senate passed the COVID-19 emergency Bill that had been passed by House of Representatives, by unanimous consent, two days earlier. The President is expected to sign the Bill.
Executive Order from Governor Newsom Regarding the California WARN Act
The California WARN Act (Labor Code 1400, et seq.) differs from the Federal WARN Act in that it does not contain an “unforeseeable business circumstances exception,” although it does contain “physical calamity” and “actively seeking business or capital” exceptions.  This has left employers in a state of confusion as to whether the current Coronavirus pandemic qualifies for either of the available exceptions.
UK Economic Response to COVID-19
Against the backdrop of tumbling financial markets, and following on from the measures announced in the Budget and an emergency cut in interest rates from the Bank of England earlier this month, the UK Government has announced further support for the business community to help it withstand the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
SEC Provides Relief for Public Company Annual Shareholder Meetings: Considerations Around Implementing Virtual Meetings
With much of the country shut down due to COVID-19, many U.S. companies are facing difficult questions when scheduling their annual shareholder meetings, including whether to delay or move such meetings or hold them virtually. In response to the uncertainty COVID-19 has injected during the busiest time for annual meetings, the Securities and Exchange Commission Staff recently published guidance to assist public companies with their upcoming shareholder meetings, providing regulatory flexibility to companies seeking to change the date and location of the meetings, or proposing to use new technologies, such as virtual shareholder meetings that avoid the need for in-person shareholder attendance, while at the same time ensuring that shareholders and other market participants remain sufficiently informed.
New York State's Legislative Response
New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an agreement with the legislature on a bill with pay and job protection guarantees for employees who are subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation because of COVID-19 issued by New York State, the department of health, local board of health, or any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such an order (“Quarantined Employees”).
FFCRA: Overview
On Monday evening, March, 16th the House of Representatives, by unanimous consent, passed technical corrections and amendments to the COVID-19 emergency Bill that was passed in the early hours of last Saturday morning. As described below, these changes narrow somewhat the burden on covered employers. The Bill now moves to the Senate, where floor action is not yet scheduled. We summarize below key provisions potentially affecting employers.
Regulatory and Practical Issues Facing Registered Investment Companies and Investment Advisers
As the number of coronavirus or COVID-19 cases increases in the United States, investment advisers and the registered investment companies they advise are facing a variety of challenges—including issues with meeting regulatory filing requirements and reporting deadlines, holding in-person board meetings, and business continuity preparedness. In addition, investment advisers are also evaluating whether updates are necessary to public disclosure documents in light of the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and the potential effect it may have on global economies and markets.
Navigating Share Repurchases in Volatile Markets
The global outbreak of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19”), together with the oil price war, have fueled the volatility and historical losses in the stock market. Despite this turmoil, a down market also could present opportunities for companies considering buying back their shares. Share repurchase strategies range from traditional open-market share repurchase programs to issuer puts on its own stock to accelerated stock repurchase programs (“ASRs”), which may include embedded floors or caps.
IRS / California FTB: Tax Payments Can be Delayed
On March 18, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service issued a notice stating that corporations can defer up to $10 million and individuals can defer up to $1 million in tax payments for 90 days. During that three-month deferral period, taxpayers will not be subject to interest, penalties, and additions to tax. Importantly, the Notice does not extend the date to file tax returns or extensions. Filing of federal tax returns can be placed on extension, but taxpayers should still file the extension to file.