Resources for Small Businesses and Furloughed Restaurant Employees

As restaurants around the country grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, their employees are feeling the brunt of the storm. The National Restaurant Association estimates the pandemic could result in as much as $225 billion in lost sales nationwide. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs predicts that up to 2.25 million people will lose their jobs before the pandemic ends, many of whom will come from restaurants and other service industry vocations.

While the outlook may look bleak, there are a number of resources available for small businesses and furloughed restaurant employees who need a little help getting by. This article will examine a few of those resources and some of the ways unemployed workers can access the benefits. You can also check out our Resources Index for more help.

For Employees: Another Round, Another Rally

Another Round, Another Rally began as a financial resource for hospitality workers in Phoenix, Arizona that needed a little help with their month-to-month finances. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the non-profit has seen the number of applications for its service skyrocket from 60 to over 1600.

The group has several funding options for furloughed employees, from professional development grants for those who want to return to school or get professional training to an emergency aid fund for those who need a few extra bucks to pay their bills.

As of this writing, the organization had to pause its emergency aid funding due to the high volume of applicants. However, the group said it is taking donations from other companies like Patrón Tequila and Casa Lumbre Spirits to raise more relief fund capital.

For Businesses: State and Local COVID-19 Aversion Funds

Business owners in Maryland and Michigan are breathing a sigh of relief as each state’s legislature passed stimulus packages aimed at helping small businesses retain their workforces through the coronavirus pandemic.

Maryland’s bill reserved several million dollars for both businesses and furloughed employees. Unlike other states, Maryland has no waiting period for those who file claims. Businesses can apply for up to $50,000 in flexible funding to help their operations and keep employees on their books.

Click here for more information about Maryland’s program.

Michigan is asking its business community to utilize the state’s Work Share Insurance, a program that allows businesses to reduce its number of employees to keep the business open without removing them from the payroll.

The program works like this: Company A needs to lay off 20 percent of its workforce to keep its doors open. Instead of kicking them to the curb, Work Share allows Company A to reduce the employees work week from five days to four. Work Share pays eligible employees their wages for the fifth day of work.

For Employees: Fair Wage Campaign

California ranks fourth in total cases of coronavirus in the US, but was one of the first states to implement a state-wide shelter-in-place order. This decision has truly incapacitated the state’s service industry, which employs over 1.2 million Californians and accounts for just under $12 billion in state and local tax revenue.

To help struggling service workers in the state, the One Fair Wage Campaign is providing cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers and more.

The application process is simple. Follow this link and describe your situation. The Campaign is actively taking donations and dolling out funds as they become available.

For Businesses: Economic Injury Disaster (EID) Loans

Businesses in states that have declared a state of emergency qualify for Economic Injury Disaster (EID) loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA). For many small businesses, these loans can be the difference between keeping employees after furlough ends and completely turning over a staff.

Restaurants can use this extra cash flow to pay emergency sick leave to employees who either contract coronavirus, or need to take care of a sick family member. This type of loan is only available in states where the governor has declared a state of emergency. As of this writing, those states include California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.

To apply for the loan, a business must meet the SBA’s definition of “small business.” If you’re unsure whether your business qualifies, check out the SBA’s Size Standards Tool.

For Employees: New York Businesses Partner Up for Prosperity

New York is considered to be the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the US, but that’s not stopping local businesses from banding together to help those in need.

Feed Albany was co-founded by several local restaurateurs to provide warm meals to those who need help. The organization currently utilizes commercial kitchens, the talents of unemployed and volunteer restaurant workers, and strategic partners like the United Way and The Regional Food Bank to serve hungry New Yorkers.

The Capital District YMCA is providing free childcare services for first responders, medical workers, and employees of businesses deemed “essential” by the state. Many “essential” businesses include food processing and manufacturing plants.

For more information about the YMCA’s childcare services, click here.

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