Via a virtual tele-town hall on Friday, small business experts offered a variety of tips and guidelines for employers who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
The call, hosted by state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, welcomed Ricardo Lara, State of California insurance commissioner; Catherine Grooms, director of the Small Business Development Center at College of the Canyons; and Ben Raju, deputy district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Los Angeles Office.
“This town hall today is to help get you the information and resources that you need to keep your businesses afloat while we navigate through the pandemic,” said Wilk.
Callers tuned in for the hour-long conference, asking questions about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest Workers’ Compensation benefits update and where to look for grants and loans.
Workers’ Compensation benefits
Newsom announced Wednesday that he would expand Workers’ Compensation benefits to help workers who contract COVID-19, which Lara covered during the call.
“The governor’s action will help people recover and get back to work and give them some peace of mind to those who are keeping our economy going and wanting to get back to work to reopen the state,” he said, adding that the directive has a time-limited rebuttable presumption in place for 60 days from the date of the executive order.
Business interruption claims
In response to several complaints from businesses, Lara said he learned that some insurance companies were denying business interruption claims without a thorough investigation, or discouraging business owners from filing a claim.
“So what we did on April 14, in response to numerous complaints from businesses, public officials and other stakeholders, are requiring insurance companies to comply with their contracts and California law by thoroughly investigating absolutely all business interruption claims caused by COVID-19,” he said.
Small business owners looking into loans, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, have a center to find resources and additional information for those affected by the pandemic.
Raju recommended, “If you’re looking to apply for these loans, we tell everybody to go to your lender that you normally do business with,” or reach out to SBA via [email protected].
If one is declined for the PPP, for example, Grooms recommends visiting irs.gov or to look into the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program via edd.ca.gov.