Advice for small business owners

By Attorney Fajer Ahmed

This is such a difficult time for all of us. We are shifting and predictions are that 30 percent of businesses will close down this month. Research also shows that restaurants usually have a 16-day buffer from closing down, while retail have 19 days. Because of this distress, I have been getting many questions on how to cut down costs by firing employees.

I urge people to support local businesses, as instead of ordering something from an international multi-million or billion-dollar e-commerce website, contact your local supplier and ask them to deliver to you safely. If you are a business owner, trust that this is a time to reroute and to be creative in your business and to make changes for the long run.

Legal firing
Question: I have to cut costs for my business and I am not sure what to do, as we are not operating at 100 percent. Can I legally fire employees right now? Or can I at least change their position from full time to freelancers?
Attorney Fajer: This is really tough. If you are to fire employees, make sure you are giving them a three-month notice and that you are paying them indemnities. But reconsider this, as it is a tough time for all. As I mentioned above, we are going through a shift right now and businesses will have to shift.

You cannot change positions of employees from full time to freelancers without their permission. Although there are instructions from governments to close down businesses, you can still have your employees legally work from home and change their work timings accordingly. If you would like to provide paid leave to employees right now, you can for those that their leaves have accumulated and if your company policies allow you to do so. Under no circumstance can you deduct salaries from employees right now or fire without cause.

If you want to file for bankruptcy, that is another discussion, feel free to email me about it on fajer@ftl-legal.com