Like almost all industries, the covid-19 pandemic has seriously affected the chemical industry, from business transactions to supply chain, and then to privacy issues related to employees’ remote work. On December 8, a team of lawyers, wober bond Dickinson, discussed these issues in depth at the SOCMA webinar.
Lawyers Tara CHO (privacy / data security), Caitlin MacDowell (corporate / M & A), Peter Snaith (UK manufacturing) and Theresa sprain (Employment Law) spoke in the one hour speech. Jennifer Abril, President and CEO of SOCMA, presided over the discussion, and Barry Herman, managing partner of Womble bond Dickinson Baltimore office, made an introductory speech.
General health of chemical market
McDowell and snesser agree that many chemical manufacturers have survived the storm of the pandemic, especially those that produce chemical products (drugs, health, medical products, food) in high demand.
“Given the rapid recession, bankruptcy is not as serious as expected. This is partly due to the government’s initial stimulus measures and financing delays. “It remains to be seen how things will develop in this area as Congress considers more stimulus measures and existing measures come to an end.”
Similarly, sness said government support has helped UK chemical companies, including the recently extended leave benefits until March 2021.
“Many British chemical manufacturer is coping well. We expect to see more acquisitions at the right time, when stronger companies will acquire good businesses that do not have enough working capital. ”
Finally, McDowell and sness said that the covid-19 vaccine has brought optimism to the whole industry and may delay the increase of bankruptcy.
The lasting impact of cowid-19 on the workplace
While vaccines offer hope of returning to normal in 2021, the pandemic has accelerated changes in the workplace, which may be permanent – especially the trend to work from home.
However, CHO said employers need to be aware of certain privacy and data security issues in the home working environment. For example, if employers collect information from personal computers used at home, they may unknowingly violate employees’ privacy. Employers must also pay attention to how to collect and store employee health information, including body temperature examination and covid-19 screening.
“Cyber attacks and fraud have also increased significantly since the outbreak,” she said “Almost everything is online, including some companies that have never been online before and may not understand the risks.”
In addition to privacy concerns, sprung said some employment concerns are directly related to the epidemic.
The CDC’s guidance on employees exposed to the virus (whether in the workplace or at home) is evolving, and the new administration may have further changes, including more guidance from the federal government on methods.
For employers, the priority is the need for the covid-19 vaccine. Sprain said factors employers should consider when assessing such requirements include the wide availability of vaccines to all employees, industry standards, and adaptation to individuals who cannot be vaccinated due to medical or religious exemptions.
Sloan also said that with the surge in the number of cases in recent weeks, many employers have once again reduced staff travel.
M & A in the age of pandemic
The bad news is that at the beginning of the epidemic, trading volume decreased slightly compared with 2019, and the average trading volume decreased significantly compared with the previous year. But the good news is that the trading market is recovering rapidly.
“In particular, chemical manufacturer can take advantage of cross-border deals to realign their footprints and supply chains in each of the major countries in which they operate, and may seek to take advantage of the adverse opportunities of the covid-19 pandemic,” McDowell said
But one thing in the future is that the cowid-19 response has become a major part of the due diligence process. Novel coronavirus pneumonia and novel coronavirus pneumonia guidelines are being carefully reviewed by the company leaders, including the ability to comply with CDC and other new guidelines for lung related pneumonia, disaster planning and the company’s key adjustment based on the new crown pneumonia epidemic situation, including the ability and success of the remote work plan in considering business transactions, customer and supply chain health and incentives.
Supply chain and contract
Influenza pandemics do sometimes put pressure on the supply chain – as anyone who has encountered empty shelves in a grocery store can attest. MacDowell said companies should assess their supply chain risk to identify potential weaknesses and strengthen contracts to help reduce risk.
“Manufacturers are working to improve the transparency of the supply chain by increasing the reporting obligations of key suppliers,” she said.