Home Service Business Unemployment | Coronavirus Update March 17

Home Service Business Unemployment | Coronavirus Update March 17

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Posted by Ian H., President

March 17, 2020

Service companies are the backbone of the economy and Housecall Pro is committed to doing everything we can to help during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

I hope you find the resources below helpful. Please share this email with other home services companies. 


Ian Heidt CEO, Housecall Pro

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March 17, 2020 update quick update

The World Health Organization situation report yesterday reported 167,511 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6,606 deaths across 152 countries/territories/areas. 

Millions are under lockdown in Europe.


US CDC reported

4,226 total (confirmed and presumptive) COVID-19 cases and 75 deaths across 49 states. This is more than double the 1,629 cases reported on Friday, March 13. 

37 states in the US have closed their public schools.

US response

Yesterday, US

President Trump announced a series of guidelines as part of a 15-day plan

to slow the epidemic. The President recommended

remote work and school “whenever possible”

; using drive-thrus, takeout, or delivery instead of eating in restaurants and bars; avoiding “discretionary travel”; and not visiting nursing homes or other long-term care facilities where there are older, high-risk individuals. 

Perhaps the biggest policy change was the

President’s recommendation to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.

The President’s guidance also recommends schools should be closed in and around areas with evidence of community transmission and that “bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms, and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate” should be closed in states with evidence of community transmission.

San Francisco - “shelter in place”

As we heard yesterday, The San Francisco Bay area in California ordered a “shelter in place” scheduled to end on April 7 (3 weeks). The order directs residents of the San Francisco Bay area to remain in their homes, except for designated “essential activities,” and it aims to build on more traditional social distancing measures. 

Those who perform designated essential functions in the community are permitted to continue working, and we are starting to see the lists of what businesses are considered essential. Notably, the list DOES include plumbers, electricians, and other service providers that keep businesses running.

San Francisco - Essential functions

Those who perform designated essential functions in the community are permitted to continue working. Here’s the full list of businesses that will continue functioning over the next few weeks in the Bay Area:

  • Healthcare operations and infrastructure (hospitals, utility PG&E)

  • Grocers, farmers’ markets, farm and produce stands, food banks, convenience stores, and other retailers selling food — including those that also sell products aside from food

  • Food cultivation businesses (farming, fishing)

  • Businesses or organizations providing social services, food or shelter to the needy

  • Newspapers, television, radio and other media

  • Gas stations and auto-related businesses, including repair shops

  • Banks and financial institutions

  • Hardware stores

  • Plumbers, electricians, and other service providers that keep businesses running

  • Shipping and mailing businesses

  • Educational institutions — like schools — to provide distance learning and other essential functions

  • Laundry services (laundromats, drycleaning companies)

  • Restaurants for delivery and take-out only

  • Businesses that supply people with items required to work from home, or businesses that supply essential businesses with necessary supplies

  • Businesses that ship groceries and supplies directly to homes

  • Airlines, taxis, and private transportation services

  • Home-based and residential care for seniors, adults and kids

  • Legal and accounting services that keep businesses in compliance

  • Childcare facilities, with certain stipulations, like only having groups of 12 kids together at a time

Pennsylvania - Essential functions

Pennsylvania’s governor announce a shutdown of non-essential businesses. Again there was confusion over what businesses are affected. Governor Tom Wolf’s office released a statement Monday night clarifying the shutdown.

The following essential businesses will remain open in PA:

  • Grocery and household goods (including supermarkets and convenience stores)

  • Gas stations

  • Auto repair stores

  • Pharmacies

  • Medical facilities

  • Hardware

  • Post offices and shipping outlets

  • Banks

  • Laundromats

  • Veterinary clinics and pet stores

  • Insurance

  • Warehousing

  • Storage and distribution

  • Public transportation

  • Hotels and commercial lodging

  • Home repair

  • Construction

  • Trash collection

  • Biomedical and health care

  • Food processing

  • Agriculture

  • Industrial manufacturing

  • Feed mills


Your best resource is starting at


, then Find Local help, then Unemployment Benefits

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued guidance to the states instructing state agencies to apply existing unemployment law flexibly related to Coronavirus.  The fastest way to file a claim is to apply for unemployment benefits online. 

However, most states provide partial benefits to individuals whose work hours have been reduced through no fault or choice of their own.

Many states also cover employees who have lost their full-time job and have partially replaced the lost income with one or more part-time jobs. Like if they went to work at a grocery store or did some delivery during this time. Some states even cover individuals who were working two or more part-time jobs and lost one of these jobs.

Eligible workers need to meet the requirements within their state for benefits.

But you as an employer have other options besides a layoff. 

Employee engagement

Let’s think about the company you want to have when we get through this?

  • Remember how long it takes to find and hire great people?

  • Even if you need to reduce hours, or lay someone off, keep in touch. Weekly at least. Let them know you look forward to having them back

  • Stay honest

  • Stay transparent

Select state unemployment info



Furloughs are a form of temporary layoff that may consist of a complete stoppage of work or reduced work hours over a period of time (for example, a reduction of one day a week for a year).

Partial employment:

Employers who need to keep operating on a less-than-full time basis can request a status known as “Partial” for their employees; work search while on unemployment is waived if:

Temporary layoff:

In the event of a temporary layoff when the employer plans to rehire a laid off employee (or group of employees), we may approve a request to place the worker or group of workers on standby. Standby waives the job search requirements while workers are collecting unemployment benefits during the approved standby period.

New York

NYS is waiving the 7-Day waiting period for Unemployment Insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to Coronavirus closures or quarantines. NYS does have partial benefits available if your hours are reduced.


If your employer reduces your hours against your will, you may be eligible for partial benefits.


Layoffs are due to lack of work, not your work performance, so you may be eligible for benefits. For example, the employer has no more work available, has eliminated your position, or has closed the business. If you are working but your employer reduced your hours, you may be eligible for benefits. If your employment has been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19), apply for benefits either online at any time using Unemployment Benefits Services or by calling TWC’s Tele-Center at 800-939-6631 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Central Time Monday through Friday.


If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week. However, they must remain able and available and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria. Eligible individuals can receive benefits that range from $40-$450 per week.


Governor’s Executive Order

waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect UI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

Termination process:

  • Be compassionate, be honest

  • You likely have some requirements of things to do within a specified period of time

  • Final pay requirements by state

  • Payout of accrued but unused time off or sick pay

  • May have some handouts you are required to give 


Legal disclaimer

Housecall Pro is offering the Coronavirus Evening Update for Home Service Businesses for informational purposes only and to foster thoughtful communication and discussion regarding the COVID-19 pandemic; Housecall Pro is not offering advisory services or otherwise advising or representing any members of the group invited to participate.  Housecall Pro is not offering legal, medical or other professional advice in the Coronavirus Evening Update and makes no representations or warranties regarding the content of the Coronavirus Evening Update. Participants should obtain independent advice relating to their businesses and their particular circumstances.


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