NFIB TN Calls for Protections, Support as State Reopens for Business

Date: April 27, 2020

As more Tennessee businesses begin to reopen in the weeks ahead, NFIB Tennessee is calling on state and federal leaders to provide clarity and mitigate business risk. Specifically, small businesses in Tennessee are asking our leaders to:

   1. Ensure workers who are offered their jobs back do not receive unemployment benefits
   2. Pass legislation that protects small businesses from frivolous pandemic-related lawsuits
   3. Ensure our smallest most vulnerable businesses are at the front of the line for critical Payment Protection Program Loans (PPPLs)
   4. Consider a state-funded program for small businesses that are unable to obtain PPPL monies
   5. Support policies that protect our unemployment trust fund and keep unemployment taxes low
   6. Continue flexible policies like tax-filing extensions and waivers for late penalties and interest
   7. Continue regulatory flexibility to include expedited permitting and waivers for unique state licensure requirements
   8. Not allow COVID-19 to be considered a presumptive occupational illness for workers’ compensation purposes
   9. Add additional sales tax holidays to encourage economic recovery and consumer spending
   10. Avoid new government spending that is not directly tied to COVID-19 recovery
“Small businesses appreciate Governor Bill Lee’s Tennessee Pledge and are committed to safe working environments for their employees and customers,” said NFIB State Director Jim Brown. “NFIB is encouraged state and federal lawmakers and officials are aware of many small business concerns that exist during the pandemic, and we’re asking for their commitment to mitigate the many risks that exist in this unusual time,” Brown said. 

“With restaurants and retail stores opening this week in 89 of 95 counties, it’s critical that our workers return to the jobs they lost when the pandemic began,” said Hugh Morrow Jr., president & CEO of Ruby Falls in Chattanooga and an NFIB member. “The unemployment system was there to protect workers when they lost their jobs through no fault of their own. In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll need them back on the job in safe work environments across Tennessee.”

Brown said NFIB has asked the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development to add measures that support Tennesseans returning to work, including improvements to the weekly certification process for unemployment beneficiaries and a fraud & abuse hotline for employers.  

He added pandemic-related liability protection should include immunity for manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of essential medical supplies, especially those that shifted operations to produce these supplies; protect employers from lawsuits from patrons who claim they contracted COVID-19 on the premises of businesses; and prevent employees from suing their employers if they contract COVID-19 during the course of employment.

To learn more about issues Tennessee small businesses, click here.


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