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COVID-19 Company Update Posts

May 6 Update

Good Afternoon Associates,

We hope that you and your families have stayed healthy and safe over the past month, and that you continue to do so.  None of us anticipated that this health crisis would be ongoing for this length of time, and we are all anxious to get back to normal.  At this time, although we are seeing signs of increased activity in our stores and in our communities, we do not yet have enough guidance from our states to be able to give associates an answer on when we will be able to resume normal operations.  For this reason, we wanted to take an opportunity to provide you with some information that we hope will be useful.

Unemployment Benefits

We recognize that for associates who have been furloughed, or are working reduced hours, one of your primary concerns is applying/qualifying for unemployment benefits.  The Human Resources Team understands that navigating your way through the application process can be tedious and we are more than happy to assist you as best we can. 

For clarification, we want you to know that the employer has no influence over the State Unemployment Commission’s benefits determinations. The responsibility of the Employer is to provide employment information and wage history on behalf of the employee to the Unemployment Commission. Once that information is provided, the decision to award unemployment benefits is at the discretion of the respective state, based on local regulations.

Unfortunately, the Employer is also not privy to information pertaining to why benefits were denied or not paid to the employee. For questions of this nature, you will have to contact your local unemployment office.

May Insurance Benefits

Just a reminder that benefit premiums for May are due to HR/Benefits by May 31.  Notices were sent on April 26 to all covered associates who have been furloughed.  The notice was sent to your personal email address if there is one in Kronos, otherwise to your company email address.  For associates with no email listed, the notice was sent via USPS.  These notices were sent out under the “benefits@haynesfurniture.com” email address (please check your spam folder).  If you have not received the notice, please contact us at this email address and request a duplicate notification. 

If you have returned to work and are working reduced hours, you may have a full or partial deduction taken out of your May paycheck.  In this case, please reduce the payment due by the payroll deduction amount, and we will reconcile the revised amount with our records at the end of the month.  If the full premium is deducted from your pay, we will refund the overpayment to you.

Your check/money order should be made payable to Haynes Furniture Co. and mailed to the address shown below, or dropped off at the business office in the Virginia Beach store.

Haynes Furniture Co/HR Benefits

5324 Virginia Beach Blvd.

Virginia Beach, VA  23462

As a reminder, if payment is not received by the due date, your coverage is subject to cancellation.

Benefits Coverage Update

Thank you again to all associates for your patience as we continue on this journey into uncharted territory with the issues presented to employers as a result of the Covid-19 health crisis.  Early in the process, we had to make the tough decision to place the majority of our associates on a leave of absence rather than separate from service. This was to avoid incurring a break in service and losing seniority while still allowing associates to file for unemployment benefits. 

 At this time, it is still unclear when the country and our Company will return to a normal operating mode.   However, as we take steps to sustain the business, the following decisions regarding benefit coverage for associates have been made, as outlined below. 

Group Insurance Plans (medical, dental, life, disability, legal)

Active and furloughed associates

Coverage will remain in effect at least through May 31.  Associates are required to continue paying their portion of the premium, as follows:

  • Active associates will continue to have payroll deductions

  • Furloughed associates will need to pay their premiums either by money order or personal check, directly to HR/Benefits, at least monthly.  Failure to pay the premium for 30 days will result in immediate cancellation of coverageIf we do not receive your premiums by May 31, coverage will be cancelled retroactive to April 30.

    • We will notify furloughed associates of the monthly total due.  Please be sure that Kronos is up to date with your current personal email address.  Included in that notification will be further instructions on where to send your payment.  You can also view any pay statement from February or March to see the total per pay premium, and double that amount for the monthly premium due.

Changes to coverage

Active and furloughed associates

Because our medical and dental plans are offered through IRS Section 125 (premiums are paid with pre-tax dollars), the IRS will not  allow associates to drop or change coveragefor reasons related to the pandemic.  .  We can, however, permit associates to drop life, disability and legal coverage as these plans are paid with after-tax dollars.  However, you should understand that if you drop life or disability, and then wish to re-elect coverage during at a later time, you may be required to provide evidence of insurability, and could be turned down by the insurance company.  Send your cancellation request to: benefits@haynesfurniture.com

Flexible Spending Accounts

Furloughed Associates

Contributions to this plan were suspended as of April 5.  For the medical FSA,  plan YTD payroll deposits  (i.e., your YTD payroll deduction) will be the maximum that you will be permitted to use for eligible medical expenses.  If you have used more than you have contributed, your account will show a negative balance and no further expenses will be accepted.  For dependent care and the NESP plans, you can request reimbursement only up to the amount of the plan YTD payroll deductions.

Upon return to work, your payroll deductions will resume and your account will be reactivated.  Please note the following requirements/options for each FSA plan type:

  • Medical FSA – IRS does not permit any change in the annual election amount.  Therefore, your per pay deduction will be recalculated to make up for any missed payroll deductions.

  • Dependent Care FSA – you are allowed to change your annual election if you are out of work and your total day care expenses have been reduced.  You must do so within 30 days and can request the change by sending an email to: benefits@haynesfurniture.com.

Active Associates

Enrollment will continue with no interruption but please note the following:

  • If you were furloughed at any time since April 4 but have returned to work, we would have suspended your payroll deduction, and use of funds will be limited to the YTD balance in  your account.  As we are informed of associates who return to work, we will reverse the suspension but may need to adjust your per payday contribution to make up for any missed payments.  We will notify you in this event.

  • If you participate in the dependent care FSA, and your work hours have been reduced,you are eligible to make a change in your annual election to accommodate any reduced day care fees.  You must request this change no later than May 5 by contacting benefits@haynesfurniture.com.

Health Savings Account

Furloughed Associates

Payroll deductions were suspended as of April 5.    Funds in your account belong to you and can be used for eligible medical expenses at any time in the future.  Upon return to work you will have the option to resume payroll deductions, and will be permitted to increase or decrease your original election.

Active Associates

Participation will continue without interruption.  If you were furloughed at any time since April 4 but have returned to work, we would have suspended your payroll deduction.  As we are notified of return to work, we will reverse the suspension but we will not adjust your payroll deduction unless you notify us that you wish to do so. 

401(k) Plan

All Associates

This plan remains in place as is for all associates, including those who have been furloughed. 

  • Pre-tax and Roth deferrals will continue to be made out of all paychecks, unless you have elected to discontinue.

  • Outstanding loans – the CARES Act included a provision for participants to suspend loan payments for up to one year.  To avoid the risk of default for associates who have been furloughed, we have requested suspension on your behalf.  We will follow up with a form for you to complete to finalize the suspension.

    • This provision also applies to active associates upon request.  A form for this purpose can be obtained directly from Empower, or via benefits@haynesfurniture.com

  • Withdrawals and future loans – the CARES Act allows for penalty free withdrawals and other special tax treatments,  and increased maximum loan amounts with special repayment provisions, due to Covid-19 related reasons.  There are very specific criteria required by IRS in order to take advantage of these provisions.  For details, please contact Ermpower directly.

www.empower-retirement.com/participant  or 1.800.338.4015

Hopefully within the next couple of weeks the crisis will start to subside and we can start rebuilding the business, and will be able to make more permanent decisions.  In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and we look forward to bringing our team back together.

A Message from EJ Strelitz and Family.

To say that we are distressed to ask our colleagues to take temporary unpaid leave, is an understatement. What now matters most is good health for you and those you love, so we have pre-paid our company’s share of your health insurance for April.

Fortunately, state and federal governments will provide you significant income during this short, painful period. We are here to help guide you and see to it- that you get every dollar you so deserve.

At the same time, we continue to work around the clock- to press our state and federal representatives to provide immediate relief to our company and thus allow you to receive compensation from us. So far, these efforts- along with thousands of other companies of our size- have failed. We remain hopeful that all of you will soon receive a fair shake from our government.

In the meantime, a small dedicated group (at drastically reduced pay) will work tirelessly to maintain the business we all built and to ensure an even brighter future for all of us.

Love to all. See you soon.

COVID-19 (coronavirus) – Company Update 4/4/20

All information shared via HR Communication emails are also available on the Employee Communications website. You can view the website by typing covid.furniture757.com in your browser’s URL bar and submitting.
The COVID-19 crisis has created tremendous upheaval of the economy, its infrastructure, and our company. We have been forced to reduce hours and close some of our stores in this unprecedented situation. By all accounts of current information available, from a virus standpoint it appears April and May are going to have the worst impact; most devastating of course will be the tragic loss of life. It is possible, if not probable, additional store closings could be necessary. Even before stores were ordered closed, the sales loss rate in March was approaching 85-90%.
It is with heavy hearts that we have come to the decision we must make difficult changes in order to respond to the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand these changes will have impacts both on the company and all its employees.
On Saturday 4/4/2020 by 9pm if you have not been contacted by either Human Resources (HR) or your store/location leadership and advised you are being retained as active personnel, then effective Sunday 4/5/2020 unfortunately it will be necessary to place you on an unpaid leave of absence (furloughed) from the company. To the extent possible, where we can make work available in the immediate days/weeks ahead we will attempt to do so, so make sure we have good contact information to reach you to get you back to work!.
As previously outlined, this is due to government restrictions on our ability to operate, as well the catastrophic impact COVID-19 (coronavirus) has had on the health of the American people and its economy. Although none of us can be sure what the next weeks or months will look like, it is both our expectation and sincere hope that the vast majority our employees will be returned to active status. However, while on furlough you will be entitled to apply for unemployment with your state unemployment agency since you will not be earning any income directly from your employer. Unemployment may include significantly enhanced benefits from the Federal government under the recent stimulus package. The company will respond promptly to any unemployment claims with the information necessary for the state agency to make a determination related to your eligibility and unemployment benefit amount as appropriate
If you participated in healthcare coverage through the company this benefit will remain in effect through April. A separate memo detailing all the information necessary related to all benefits impact/options will follow. Those employees who are currently on a medical leave of absence will be contacted next week regarding your status.
Unfortunately, all vacation remaining on the books will not be paid out at this time (unless as required by law). However, it is our hope that in the weeks and months to come we will be able to rehire most of our workforce and at that time we will determine if that benefit can be restored.
If you have company assets with you –laptop, cell phone etc. in a good faith effort to encourage shelter in place we ask you to retain those assets safely at home with you until your reemployment or a company representative contacts you to recover that property. If you have personal items at the workplace, we asked for the same consideration unless there is an urgent need to retrieve that property i.e. required medication, we ask that you hold on retrieval until the end of May at least.
This is not goodbye; this is a pause while we hunker down and beat this thing! The leadership team will not stop working on the complex issues that lie ahead. It is our intention to rebuild, redesign and come out on the other side of this stronger; a more profitable company who will be considered an employer and a retail furniture company of choice.
In the meantime, we wish you and your families well-being and peace. Take care of yourselves and each other.
As always, your HR team will remain (all be it in a reduced capacity) available to assist you. Contact HR at (757) 552-1500 or

COVID-19 (coronavirus) – Company Update

All information shared via HR Communication emails are also available on the Employee Communications website. You can view the website by typing covid.furniture757.com in your browser’s URL bar and submitting.
We hope that you all are remaining well and taking care of yourselves and each other. We understand many of you have questions about your future employment status and what options are available to you. It is the company’s intention to communicate in more detail over the next couple of days. Please continue to check the website for updates.
See below for location store hours information for this weekend-

The Dumps (Outer Market and Virginia)

Sales Staff-

12pm-6pm– Saturday & Sunday–reduced schedules.

Except–

PA-closed

IL- closed

Dallas, TX- closed

Haynes

Sales Staff –

10am-6pm–Saturday– reduced schedules

11am-6pm– Sunday–reduced schedules.

*All others – essential personnel only.

COVID-19 (coronavirus) – Company Update

*** SUMMARY OF TEMPORARY SICK LEAVE POLICY***

The following is a compilation of the several policies and updates communicated regarding the use of the up-to-two-week additional sick leave time that was originally announced on March 12, 2020.

Salary and Hourly Employees- The following absences are covered by the additional sick leave time:

  • Absences related to a COVID-19 medical condition for the employee, including exposure to their spouse or other immediate family member;
  • Absences related to care for a dependent family member, including absences caused by school or daycare facility closures;
  • Absences related to any store/office shutdowns made by either the company or the government.

Full Time Sales Associates- The following absences from normal working hours are covered by the additional sick leave time:

  • Absences related to a COVID-19 medical condition for the employee, including exposure to their spouse or other immediate family member;
  • Absences related to care for a dependent family member, including absences caused by school or daycare facility closures.

Part-time Sales Associates- The following absences from normal Friday-Sunday working hours are covered by the additional sick leave time:

  • Absences related to a COVID-19 medical condition for the employee, including exposure to their spouse or other immediate family member;
  • Absences related to care for a dependent family member, including absences caused by school or daycare facility closures (which would typically be a Friday).

All sales associates will be compensated at their base rate of pay; for Haynes associates any draw applicable to temporary sick leave will not recouped against future sales.

As a reminder, in all cases, employees who are sick and/or believe they have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, coughing, shortness of breath) cannot report to work and instead must stay home and should seek medical advice and attention.

Your Urgent Action is Requested

Hi everyone,

First of all EJ & Randi are hoping you and your loved ones are well and stay healthy through this very uncertain time. They are doing everything they can to ensure we all come out of this okay.

As some of you may already be aware, there is a bill that has passed the Senate and will hopefully get passed by the House of Representatives. If this happens it will help our company and all of us tremendously. I am reaching out to all of you to ask for your help. Please take 5 minutes to call or write to our Virginia representatives. You can use our Virginia Beach Corporate address below. I have included links below:

Rob Wittman – https://wittman.house.gov/contact/

Elaine Luria – https://luria.house.gov/zip-code-lookup?form=/contact/email-me

Donald McEachin – https://mceachin.house.gov/contact/email

You can also contact your local representatives.

If we all come together and participate we can make an incredible impact and be heard. This may be the most important email/letter you have ever written. Feel free to use your own words but if you would like, here are a few key sentences below to include.

“Our headquarters and biggest store in Virginia Beach supports hundreds of well paying jobs and benefits. Other locations in and outside of Virginia all have well under 500 employees. Please make certain we are one of the “Certain Industries” included for relief as furniture retail is widely predicted (Wall Street journal March 25th) to be the single hardest hit industry in the US.”

“I urge you to please give us relief and pass this bill”

“Please help us in this time of uncertainty and pass this bill”

“Make me glad I voted for you and pass this bill now, Thank you!”

I have also provided two hyperlinks which will provide you with some important information, one from Marco Rubio and one from Wells Fargo.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me directly.

EJ & Randi thank all of you for your commitment to this company.

Thank you so much for joining in to help our stores Haynes & The Dump.

https://www.wellsfargo.com/investment-institute/ia-stimulus-plan/

https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/ef2d5d75-82b2-4de8-9e4e-89e1cdc2b758/EA7D2DA06BB292AB5903710F77D02485.final-section-by-section—keeping-american-workers-employed-and-paid-act.pdf

Josie Daigle, B.A.
Executive Assistant to
EJ & Randi Strelitz
5324 Virginia Beach Blvd
Virginia Beach, VA  23462
757-552-1508 (O)
410-905-2772 (C)

COVID-19 (coronavirus) – Company Update- “Stressed Out and No Place To Go? “

Our Employee Assistance Provider (REACH-EAP) invites you to join them on Friday, March 27th from 12pm-12:30pm for a FREE webinar entitled “Stressed Out and No Place To Go? Coping with COVID-19 “. Learn tips & tricks for reducing stress and staying healthy during COVID-19 Register for the session on Friday, March 27th by visiting: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5866395217729542156 If you are unable to attend the session attached is a document that covers the content.

Remember EAP services are available 24/7 at (800) 950-3434 or via the web at https://allonehealth.com/reacheap/

COVID-19 (coronavirus) – Company Update- ALL LOCATIONS

As we make every attempt to balance our decisions to remain open we are carefully considering our customer’s basic needs, where possible continuing to provide work for our employees and most importantly keeping everyone as safe as possible. In our locations where we are remaining open, we are continuing to maintain a heavy focus on social distancing and stringent sanitation of our showrooms and communal spaces. We are endeavoring to provide safety gloves and cleaning supplies along with zone assignment for regular attention to cleanliness standards.

If your location has open hours, we want to make clear your attendance is strictly voluntary. For store, sales and warehouse staff if you have not been directed to stay home this week please communicate with your supervisor about your attendance so your time can be accurately recorded.

Haynes

Open— Wednesday through Sunday (10am-6pm)- limited staff

The Dumps (Outer Market and Virginia)

Closed–Monday through Thursday

Open–Friday through Sunday (12pm-6pm)- limited staff

Except–

PA-closed

IL- closed

As always, stayed tuned as this is subject to change. Stay safe and well.

COVID-19 (coronavirus) – Company Update- HAYNES STORES

All information shared via HR Communication emails are also available on the Employee Communications website. You can view the website by typing covid19.furniture757.com in your browser’s URL bar and submitting. You can submit your questions through the Employee Feedback link on the website listed above.  

HAYNES UPDATE

Tuesday 3/24 —open with a limited staff from 10-6 pm

–Haynes Associates if you are scheduled your management team will be confirming with you this evening.

As always things are subject to change.

Stay safe and well.