As the nation faces an unprecedented public health crisis, businesses are grappling with how to support their workforce, implement emergency policies and sustain their businesses amidst economic uncertainty. And millions of workers—especially frontline workers paid low wages—are facing dire extremes: either experiencing layoffs or reduced hours, or working under demanding and often unsafe conditions. Many workers lack emergency protections and benefits to meet the needs of this moment.
Millions of workers are facing dire extremes: either experiencing layoffs or reduced hours, or working under demanding and often unsafe conditions.
The policies are meant to help the most impacted workers within a business— particularly hourly workers paid low wages and those with caregiving responsibilities or health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
We encourage companies to adopt multiple practices from this guide and focus on applying them as broadly and equitably as possible, to help ensure a safe and healthy workforce and in turn a safe and healthy community. We also encourage companies to listen and respond to workers’ concerns, since workers are on the frontlines and can help employers identify health and safety gaps and other workplace issues. There is a clear business case for investing in a company’s workforce—to improve retention, productivity and morale and because workers, customers and communities will remember companies that met the challenge of this moment and invested in their workers. Ensuring a safe and fair workplace is also a racial and gender justice issue, as the health and economic consequences of COVID -19 continue to devastate Black, Latinx, American Indian, and immigrant communities and women of color—who are less likely to be able to work from home and who are overrepresented in COVID-19 fatalities.
This guide was developed by the National Partnership for Women & Families and the National Employment Law Project (NELP). The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family.