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What if I temporarily close?

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Communicate with your employees
Your employees are eligible for temporary unemployment benefits, and there are several employer-initiated steps you can take to benefit your employees:

1. Standby program with the Employment Security Department. If you plan or hope to reopen, you may place your employees on standby status. This will provide a portion of their wages (including reported tips) and employees will not have the requirement to search for work while on standby. Employers will get relief from benefit charges because of House Bill 2965 – passed on March 12, 2020, at the request of the Washington Hospitality Association.

2. SharedWork program with the Employment Security Department. If you are able to retain some employees, but need to reduce hours, you can use the SharedWork program. This will allow employees to earn wages while working and receive a portion of lost wages because of fewer hours through unemployment insurance benefits (including reported tips). Employers will be prorated the experience charge because you are not doing a full layoff.

If your employees become sick
1. If an employee needs to quarantine by order or recommendation of health official or doctor, they are entitled to unemployment insurance benefits. These benefits are non-charged to the employer.
2. If an employee gets sick, they are entitled to their accrued paid sick and safe leave benefits and benefits from the Paid Family and Medical Leave program.
3. Employees may use their accrued paid sick leave hours for their own illness, for a family member’s illness or if their child’s school is closed.

Securing your food and equipment
• Perishable items should be kept to the industry standard of seven days. If a refrigerated product has been opened and is not shelf-stable, it should be discarded after seven days. Shelf-stable products like mayonnaise, vinegar, and ketchup do not need to be discarded.
• Food items like meat and poultry that have not already been cooked can be frozen.
• Review directions for equipment, such as ice machines, that might need maintenance if not used during the closure period.
• Donate food when you can. Reach out to your local food donation centers to see which foods they can use and follow these safety guidelines.

Pausing business operations
1. Contact your vendors to postpone services. Liquor distributors are working with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to allow take-back of product.
2. Contact your landlord or lender to let them know you are unable to continue business. This is an unprecedented time for Washington state. Many lenders have already enacted assistance programs.
3. Check your insurance policy. See the recommendation from the Washington Hospitality Property and Casualty Business Insurance.