Forum Admin
William “Billy” Furr and his colleagues at Willcox Savage have been working with 757 employers to better understand the shifting landscape and the provisions contained in federal legislation like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the CARES Act. Read his tips here and submit any questions you may have in this forum.

Billy will be on hand Friday, April 17 at 1 PM to provide answers, so check back then or any time after to hear his thoughts.
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Douglas L. Smith 
Billy, Welcome to our 757 COVID-19 Business Recovery Forum. We greatly appreciate your taking the time to post your blog and now answer a few questions. I know that as a Labor and Employment Attorney you must me handling a myriad of issues for your clients right now. So, thank you for joining us.
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Billy Furr 
It is great to be with you today. I've known you for a long time.Yes, we have been very busy with COVID-19 issues.
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Douglas L. Smith 
Billy, as we now know, PPP funding has run out. What advice do you have for those businesses who were perhaps waiting on whether they would receive funding before making the difficult decision to furlough or layoff employees? Should they continue to wait in hopes of future rounds of funding?
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Billy Furr 
Congress is currently discussing an additional $250 million in funding in CARES Act loans. We can't be sure whether the funding is going to come through or not. For employers without CARES Act loans and who are struggling, furloughs can provide relief at a time when the unemployment payments to furloughed employees are at a record level (up to $978 per week in Virginia)
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Douglas L. Smith 
Billy, as I said earlier, I know you are working with a great many firms - What are some recurring themes you are hearing from local employers, especially now that we are almost five weeks into social distancing?
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Billy Furr 
Several local employers are just now having employees test positive for COVID-19. This brings a whole host of new challenges for employers that are trying to stay open. Additionally, local employers are increasingly talking about  layoffs, particularly when their 8-week forgivable loan period ends.
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Douglas L. Smith 
Billy, in our 757 Business Leaders Survey, 37% of business leaders said this crisis has already caused them to change their current model. In what ways do feel some of the current shifts we’re seeing will become common practice even after the crisis subsides?
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Billy Furr 
Some of our clients anticipate needing less office space because they now know that many of their employees can work remotely. Others are facing the new normal that it is going to take the economy many months to recover. This, of course, means reduced revenues and fewer employees. 
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Douglas L. Smith 
Billy, while it may not be surprising, survey results also revealed that younger and smaller companies are at greater risk of closing completely due to this crisis. What are the differences you’ve seen in how smaller companies have had to react, versus larger companies? What are some examples of success you’ve seen from both the larger and smaller sector?
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Billy Furr 
The larger companies (more than 500 employees) are not eligible for the forgivable loan program under the CARES Act or the federally subsidized emergency sick leave and family leave under FFCRA. The smaller companies can benefit from CARES and FFCRA, however, even with the federal assistance, it will be difficult for many.
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Douglas L. Smith 
Billy, as someone who navigates complicated employer-employee dynamics, how do see that dynamic shifting moving forward as a result of COVID-19. For example, do you think stricter cleaning and sanitizing efforts will become the norm (or even required) for employers for the foreseeable future? We hear a lot about testing in the workplace as well. Do you see that in our future?
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Billy Furr 
I believe that stricter cleaning efforts by employers will definitely become the norm. We are also likely to see more testing when COVID symptoms are present. We are currently seeing cleaning businesses thrive and they will continue to do so. Our clients are also saying that business travel is going to take a while to return. Large events such as conventions will not likely return until we have a vaccine.
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Douglas L. Smith 
Billy, workplace dynamics are changing so quickly, as we go forward could you see any scenarios where employers might be held liable for not providing an adequately safe work environment as it relates to COVID-19? Are there now regulations employers must be adhering to if they’ve remained open?
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Forum Admin

Good Afternoon, Billy. Thanks so much for joining us. 

One of our users on another thread posed this question to you. I'm copying it here on their behalf:

It's hard to identify how I am listed, which affects what to apply for. For tax purposes, I file as a sole proprietor, with an EIN number, however, I have received 1099's on occasion. How does this affect me if I were to apply for "unemployment" as a Contractor?  My question is: What's the difference of being "self-employed" as opposed to a contractor or sole proprietor? 
Applied for a PPP loan and EIDL loan but on hold now with a lack of funding. Not sure where to go next and if I CAN file for unemployment?

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Amy Jordan ajordan
Good afternoon Billy,
Can you speak to family medical leave under FFCRA?  If an employee becomes ill with COVID-19, is this subject to the same standards under FMLA or are there unique applications of the law for COVID?  If an employee previously took FMLA in the last 12 months, would this impact the amount of time they would be allowed to take?   
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Billy Furr 
Billy, workplace dynamics are changing so quickly, as we go forward could you see any scenarios where employers might be held liable for not providing an adequately safe work environment as it relates to COVID-19? Are there now regulations employers must be adhering to if they’ve remained open?


There will be lawsuits alleging that employers were negligent in failing to make their workplaces safe. Some of these cases may be preempted by the workers compensation statutes. We believe that a claim for negligence will be difficult for the employee to prevail if the employer complied with the Governor's Orders, the OSHA guidelines, and the CDC guidelines.
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Billy Furr 
Forum Admin wrote:

Good Afternoon, Billy. Thanks so much for joining us. 

One of our users on another thread posed this question to you. I'm copying it here on their behalf:

It's hard to identify how I am listed, which affects what to apply for. For tax purposes, I file as a sole proprietor, with an EIN number, however, I have received 1099's on occasion. How does this affect me if I were to apply for "unemployment" as a Contractor?  My question is: What's the difference of being "self-employed" as opposed to a contractor or sole proprietor? 
Applied for a PPP loan and EIDL loan but on hold now with a lack of funding. Not sure where to go next and if I CAN file for unemployment?

The emergency unemployment relief makes it easier for independent contractors and sole proprietors to collect unemployment compensation.This includes 1099 contractors. I suggest that you apply for benefits on the Virginia Employment Commission website. You just may find that you are eligible for unemployment compensation under the emergency scheme.

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Billy Furr 
Good afternoon Billy,
Can you speak to family medical leave under FFCRA?  If an employee becomes ill with COVID-19, is this subject to the same standards under FMLA or are there unique applications of the law for COVID?  If an employee previously took FMLA in the last 12 months, would this impact the amount of time they would be allowed to take?   


Amy, the FFCRA provides for  sick leave and family leave in addition to the FMLA. An employee can still be eligible for emergency sick leave and emergency family leave even if he or she has depleted regular FMLA leave.  The FFCRA allows for 80 hours of emergency sick leave for employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 as well as other reasons. Additionally, FFCRA provides for up to 10 weeks of family leave for those employees who need to stay home with children whose school or day care is closed. FFCRA applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees.
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Douglas L. Smith 
Billy, thank you very much for taking the time to offer your insights and guidance this afternoon. There is so much information being shared. It is important that we have local experts like yourself that are willing to offer answers to specific questions to help our businesses here in the 757. We will keep checking this site for questions. For most of us the weekdays and weekends are blending together these days. Nevertheless I hope you have a great weekend.
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Billy Furr 
It's been a pleasure to spend time with you. I encourage employers to stay abreast of developments by continuing to visit the websites of the CDC, OSHA, VEC and the Department of Labor. These agencies are posting valuable information daily. As my wife reminds me during difficult times, This Too Shall Pass.
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