Survey Reveals Employers’ Coronavirus Concerns
Nearly all employers worry that an employee who tests positive for the coronavirus could force them to temporarily close their business, according to a recent survey of more than 900 employers nationwide.
Nine of 10 are concerned about determining whether to pay employees during absences, and even more—94%—have concerns about accommodating employees worried about exposure to the virus at work or while commuting, the Littler COVID-19 Flash Survey shows.
Littler, a national law firm with specialty areas that include labor and employment, surveyed 912 companies of various sizes between March 12-25.
The smallest companies had from 1 to 100 employees while the largest had 10,000 or more workers.
“The novel coronavirus has created a host of challenges for employers while accelerating fundamental shifts already underway in the workplace,” Littler said in its executive summary.
“The survey results reveal employers navigating far-ranging and thorny challenges—from operational considerations related to closures and staffing shortages to keeping employees safe and managing morale to making tough decisions related to compensation and providing leave to those unable to work.”
Leave and Sick Pay
The survey found that 76% of employers are extremely or moderately concerned about having to close after an employee tests positive and 20% were somewhat or slightly concerned.
Only 4% are not concerned at all.
Some 41% of companies are adjusting sick leave policies or providing additional paid time off to encourage sick workers to stay home while 44% are considering it.
Of the 89% concerned about whether to pay employees during absences, 59% are extremely or moderately concerned while 30% are somewhat or slightly concerned.
Responses indicate that for most employers, it relates to dealing with employees who cannot work remotely and workers who must care for children home from school or sick relatives.
This issue has grown in prominence since the survey’s completion, Littler said, noting recent action by Congress to provide paid and family medical leave to employees.
Only 5% of companies surveyed have implemented furloughs or short-term layoffs while 43% were considering it.
More than half—52%—were not considering furloughs or layoffs.
However, Littler notes that many respondents took the survey in mid-March before unemployment claims rose to record highs.
This shows how the situation for employers evolves daily “along with the depth of the economic toll of COVID-19,” Littler said.
Nearly all companies surveyed—93%—are concerned about ensuring workplace conditions and policies comply with safety and health regulations.
That includes 60% that are extremely or moderately concerned, and 33% somewhat or slightly concerned.
Almost every company—98%—is advising employees on best hygiene and preventive measures.
Most companies—83%—said they are restricting travel, 78% canceled upcoming meetings or conferences, 62% conducted a deep workplace cleaning, and 59% encouraged working from home.
Ensuring that policies don’t unintentionally discriminate against a protected class is a concern for 83% of businesses, with 44% extremely or moderately concerned, and 39% somewhat or slightly concerned.
Almost half the companies—45%—are providing additional accommodations to certain employees, including those who are pregnant or with underlying medical conditions.
Another 37% are considering additional accommodations, but 17% indicated they were not concerned.
“This is an area that employers should continue to be mindful of in this rapidly evolving situation,” Littler advised.
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