The Tree Care Industry and Covid-19

Updated March 31, 2020

TCIA advises our members to check back to this page often for updates on actions by Congress and other COVID-19 news that may impact the tree care industry.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China. The virus has now spread beyond China's borders to dozens of countries, infecting over one hundred thousand people worldwide as of March 12, 2020. You can read what we know about COVID-19 here. As this virus begins to spread in the United States, businesses, employers, and employees need to be prepared for its potential impacts across the economy. Click here to read the latest guidance on stopping the spread of the coronavirus from the White House.

What is being done to fight COVID-19?

Flattening The CurveThe Small Business Administration (SBA) has made available low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the developing situation. That said many lawmakers, industries, and small businesses are calling on Congress to pass additional stimulus measures as concerns rise that COVID-19 will hurt the economy more than previously expected.

Resources and Guidance

Here are some ways Tree Care Businesses can stay up to date and provide support until the virus is contained:

  • The US Department of Labor (DOL) has put together this guidance on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. We strongly encourage our members to become familiar with the provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act, and to review the Department of Labor page closely.
  • Visit theCDC’s website often for a comprehensive overview of the novel coronavirus. Arming yourself with accurate information from a reliable source will help lessen the spread of false or exaggerated information.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Learn more by visiting the SBA website here
  • Read new guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about the need for employers to implement engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as considerations for doing so.
    • One critical point from this guide is the need to maintain regular housekeeping practices. The regular cleaning and disinfecting of work surfaces can help slow the spread of COVID-19.  
  • Similarly, the Wage and Hour Division is providing information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, including effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
    • Share your organization’s policies and procedures with employees as soon as possible to avoid confusion and unnecessary risks. 
  • Review your company’s sick leave policy. Employees that show cold or flu-like symptoms should stay home and away from others and should be tested promptly. Advise employees when applicable that health insurance providers have waived co-payments associated with testing. Employers are encouraged to be flexible with sick employees or those who are caring for a sick family member. 
    • DO NOT require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who request sick time, as providers’ offices will be very busy in the case of an outbreak. If you or an employee does visit a healthcare provider’s office, the CDC strongly recommends calling ahead. 

Putting Safety First

The safety of your employees and customers is your company’s top priority, and how you respond to health and safety concerns has a direct impact on employee confidence and morale. Take steps now to educate yourself and your employees, review your internal policies and procedures, and you will be better prepared for disruptive events like this in the future.