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As vaccination rates increase and more COVID-19 restrictions are lifted across the U.S., restaurants are reopening to back to full capacity to host their customers in-person. Here’s what your business needs to keep in mind to reopen successfully:

Employee Retention Tax Credit

In a recent blog, we shared how the American Rescue Plan Act extends the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) from June 30, 2021 to  December 31, 2021. This tax credit offers more financial security to restaurants as you navigate reopening. With this extension, eligible restaurant owners can now claim a tax credit up to $7,000 per quarter (a potential credit of $28,000 annually) per employee.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Specifically for restaurants, the American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which includes $28.6 billion in grants administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurants with 100 or fewer full-time employees (FTEs) are eligible to access the ERTC for employees working in 2020 and companies with 500 or fewer FTEs can use the ERTC for employees working in 2021. Note: These tax credits can only be used for payroll wages or group benefits that haven’t been paid with existing PPP loan funds.

Stay informed on CDC Guidance

With more financial support, restaurants are in a good place to make a strong comeback as more and more in-person dining returns. Stay updated with the CDC’s Considerations for Restaurant and Bar Operators guidelines. From maintaining healthy environments with increased cleaning and disinfecting routines to preparing for potential sick employees, the guidelines are routinely updated to reflect current COVID-19 prevention best practices.

Support returning employees and new hires

Whether you’re bringing back employees from COVID-related furlough, or hiring new talent, you want to offer your employees (and yourself!) a simple, streamlined onboarding process. Consider using an all-in-one digital HR solution with built-in new hire checklists and avoid the hassle of tracking down employees for paperwork. You can send offer letters, assign onboarding tasks and ensure hiring compliance all online, giving you more time to spend focused on reopening. Best of all, your employees can access their documents, timesheets and benefits all on their mobile device.

Follow a reopening plan

Understand risks factors associated with reopening your business and best prepare your staff with this step-by-step plan:

  • Review COVID-19 operating guidelines for your restaurant: Stay informed on CDC guidance, as well as state, local and federal guidelines concerning COVID-19.
  • Protect your customers and employees: Now that customers are returning to your restaurant, make sure your staff is prepared with increased cleaning routines and consider touchless payment options.
  • Review and revise existing HR policies: Policies around sick time, benefits, PTO and accommodating vulnerable employees must be reviewed. Consider offering time off to your employees who are quarantining, getting tested or receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Identify funding opportunities: It’s no secret the pandemic has brought on a very tough financial situation for many restaurant owners. Keep in mind your cash flow projections and seek additional funding like the Restaurant Revitalization Fund or use the Employee Retention Tax Credit.

Editor's note: This blog post was deemed accurate at the time of publication and may not reflect recent changes related to payroll and HR law. The information provided in this blog does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice.

Reopening Tip No.1:

Navigate your new normal with a trusted payroll provider.