Your Daily Three: May 15
May 15, 2020
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Q1. “I am on the board of directors of a condominium building in downtown Chicago. Since the stay-at-home order, all of our building’s amenities – like the fitness room, pool, and lounge – have been closed. Are unit owners entitled to a refund or waiver of a portion of their monthly assessments?” Answered by Christopher Heintskill
The answer is: “no.” Section 18(o) of the Condominium Act expressly prohibits condominium boards from forbearing assessments. In fact, most condominium declarations and by-laws make it clear that unit owners have obligations to pay assessments regardless of whether or not they use the building’s common elements or amenities. To understand why, it is important to keep in mind that the money that unit owners pay each month goes towards more than just building amenities; the association still needs to pay insurance premiums, building staff, outside vendors that provide critical services such as garbage pickup, and utilities like electricity, gas, and water. And so even though the small percentage of unit owners that typically use your building’s fitness center has been unable to do so, unit owners are not entitled to get any portion of their assessments back.
Q2. “Assuming that an employer wishes to work with their employees as much as practical to accommodate their needs (i.e., childcare, health concerns, etc.) while understanding that all needs may not be able to be accommodated, what is the best way to go about making inquiries to assess those needs?” Answered by Becky Canary-King
While employers should avoid making inquiries about employees’ medical or familial status, employers can encourage employees to voluntarily disclose if they are at higher risk or if they have other needs related to coronavirus. Employers should not assume that certain employees do not want to return to work or would prefer remotely based on their protected characteristic (such as age, pregnancy, familial status, or medical condition). Some options for ensuring your employees are returning to the worksite according to their comfort-level include:
- A survey asking employees’ their preference of whether they would like to return to the workplace or continue to work remotely, without requiring disclosure of their reasons.
- A volunteer sign-up list to begin working from the worksite
- A communication to employees that if they are at higher risk of serious illness or have other needs related to coronavirus, they may be eligible for leave or accommodations, and may reach out to Human Resources.
Q3. “Our company conducts Chicago-based walking and bus tours. We are concerned that even when we are able to resume business, customers may not be comfortable riding with us. How are similar companies handling this challenge?” Answered by Kevin Corrigan
As you know, for the time being, bus and walking tours companies are not considered “essential businesses” and, therefore cannot currently operate. These restrictions are subject to change. The best advice we can give you is to be prepared for when you can resume operation and/or, if feasible, offer “virtual tours” as some companies have begun doing. You are right though that there will still be some fear and hesitation on the part of customers to sign up for tours, even after restrictions are lifted. We would suggest that you begin to plan for when your operations can resume. For example, you may want to tell potential customers on your site that when you do resume operations you will do the following (these are just suggestions):
- Incorporate driver education awareness training for cleanliness procedures and preventative hygiene practices
- Hand sanitizer station in the front of the coach for passengers to use when boarding and exiting the coach
- Complete disinfectant cleaning of the coach prior to each new trip
- Spot cleaning of high-touched surfaces with disinfectant
- Limiting capacity to respect social distancing and create a more relaxing environment
- Distribute PPE, like face coverings.
You might also want to get ahead of curve by sending a letter to your customers, or posting on your website, putting forth your reopening plan. That way, customers that may want to book a tour a month or two from now can do so with comfort. Attached is a link to the American Bus Association website that serves motor coach operators, tour operators, tourism-related organizations and is providing Covid-related advice and resources.
3+. Support a small business. Our client The Roof Crop is a full-service landscaping and urban farm with deep ties in our community and a mission to serve with minimal environmental impact. With warmer weather and spring showers, many of us are finding gardening as a meaningful way to spend our time right now – and what better way to do so than by also supporting small business. If you are in need of any flowers, plants, or planters, The Roof Crop has you covered (along with their faces). Follow their story at @theroofcrop on Instagram and email email@example.com for custom orders. Are you a small business client? Let us know if you would like to be featured in an upcoming issue.
For more resources and LP's response to COVID-19, visit this webpage.