Considerations When Reducing Your Workforce Due to the Coronavirus

As the world grapples with Coronavirus, companies are facing hard decisions about their workforce. Some companies can deploy their employees to work from home. Some cannot. Some have the ability to temporarily suspend work during this time of social distancing. Some do not. No matter what situation you find yourself in, if you are facing the difficult situation of determining whether to reduce your workforce, either temporarily or permanently, due to the Coronavirus, you may want to consider:

Federal and State-Specific Requirements

  • What federal and/or state laws do you need to be aware of?
  • Do federal and state WARN Acts apply to your workforce? 

Pay Issues

  • Are there potential pay issues you need to be aware of?
  • How do you apply PTO and vacation pay?
  • What notices are you required to give before reducing salaries, wages, and schedules?
  • Will your employees be eligible for unemployment compensation?

Benefit Issues

  • Do you have any applicable leave policies, requirements, or obligations to consider?
  • What do your health benefit plans say about keeping workers on extended leave?
  • Can you furlough your employees, so they do not have to exercise their COBRA election?


  • Does your employee handbook contain provisions that address terminations or layoffs?
  • Does your employee handbook have any specific requirements regarding emergency situations?
  • Do you have any employment contracts with termination or severance provisions? 

Potential for Discrimination Claims

  • How do you decide who is laid off and who remains?
  • How do you avoid potential discrimination claims when executing terminations or layoffs?

We are living in an unprecedented time. Our employment group is here to help you navigate through these and other employment-related issues that may arise surrounding COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months.  For questions, assistance, or further information, please contact with Stephanie Loughner or Becky DeCook.

Download our guide Options for Workforce Reduction During Coronavirus.