More than half of small business owners worry about increased liability and the risk of lawsuits as they reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, new data shows.

A June 23 Society for Human Resource Management report shows 53% of surveyed small business owners are somewhat or very worried about the increased risk of lawsuits and liability as they reopen.

Of the 53%, exactly half want a state or federal standard that limits liability for employers who follow CDC reopening guidelines.

And one in three say waivers signed by employees (39%) and customers (32%) would lessen their anxiety.

Liability is a real concern for Connecticut businesses owners as they reopen during the pandemic.

National Issue

CBIA recently joined a nationwide call for federal COVID-19 liability relief, saying COVID-19 litigation threatens pandemic response efforts and the return to work of millions of Americans.

The online survey of 416 small businesses with 500 or fewer employees, including 250 with 100 or fewer workers, was done May 27-June 5.

Previous data SHRM released from the survey showed that over half of employers plan to reopen by July 31.

COVID-19 litigation threatens the return to work of millions of Americans.

Thirty percent of small businesses that are reopening are somewhat or very unconcerned with liability, and that 17% are neither concerned nor unconcerned.

The data also revealed that 58% of small businesses with people working mostly or entirely remotely plan to have everyone back at the workplace by the end of June—that includes 35% who plan to be back on or before June 30, and 23% before June 1.

Of small businesses that have set a return date, 51% will return workers in phases, 25% will return all remote workers at once, 17% will use alternating schedules, and 6% have no concrete plan for returning them.

Revenue Declines

More than eight in 10 small businesses surveyed—81%—that are allowed by local or state government to reopen are in the process of doing so.

Ten percent of small businesses remained open, 4% chose not open, and 3% were unable to reopen.

Seven in 10 small businesses report an overall revenue decrease since the pandemic began, 14% have a revenue increase, and for 15%, revenues held steady.

Of those with decreased revenues:

  • 57% had losses of 10-30%
  • 37% had losses above 30%
  • 7% reported a total loss

When the pandemic finally ends, 52% of small businesses expect it will take less than six months to return to normal while 48% say it will take longer.