With federal, state and local officials taking increasingly drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, many businesses are facing difficult decisions about what to do with their workforces. The challenges facing employers during this crisis are unprecedented. Guidance published by federal agencies is evolving rapidly as the crisis worsens, and state and local governments are imposing severe restrictions on business and personal activities in an effort to slow the spread of the virus (including complete lockdowns). Authorities are unable to predict with certainty when such restrictions will end. Many employers will be compelled to reduce the size of their workforces in the face of these challenges. Such reductions may trigger laws requiring advance notice to employees before they are terminated, laid off or have their hours reduced. Employers who ignore these laws risk legal challenges that could persist long after the pandemic ends.
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