Health or work: coronavirus has put millions of Americans facing a difficult choice

Millions of American workers without paid sick leave, may be an impossible choice if they suspect that you are infected with coronavirus. They will have to choose between health and livelihood, writes USA Today.

Здоровье или работа: коронавирус поставил миллионы американцев перед нелегким выбором

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Concern that workers who can’t afford to stay home will accelerate the spread of the virus, was expressed by Vice-President Mike Pence. The centers for control and disease prevention has recommended that employers “provide a flexible policy of time off for illness in accordance with the recommendations of the public health.”

However, even in this rapidly developing crisis, which hit markets worldwide, many still do without the hospital. 1 out of 4 U.S. workers — more than 32 million — do not have paid sick days. According to the Bureau of labor statistics, 7 out of 10 low-wage workers do not receive paid sick leave. Some American workers do not have the opportunity to take unpaid sick leave, forcing them either to follow closely the state of health or losing wages and possibly the work itself.

Emergency public health problem

The urgent need for paid sick leave has become a pressing public health problem during the rapid spread of coronavirus, says Nicolas Siburt, associate Professor of Economics at Cornell University in the College of human ecology. The virus showed no signs of slowing down as of Tuesday, March 10. Confirmed cases reached 800 in more than 30 States and the district of Columbia. The number of deaths in the United States increased to 27.

Research conducted by Sibatom show that mandatory sick leave in individual States and cities significantly reduces the transmission of influenza. Other studies show that the introduction of sick leave in the companies did not reduce salaries or job creation.

“When people have access to paid sick leave, the spread of the flu is reduced, — said the expert. — In this situation, it is important that people with symptoms not to go to work and not spread diseases” to reduce the level of infection and buy time for vaccine development.

After the Walmart employee in Kentucky has tested positive for the coronavirus, Walmart and Sam’s Club has introduced a new policy Express holiday COVID-19, which gives the workers in quarantine for up to two weeks of payment. If an employee with a confirmed case can not return to work after two weeks, he may be granted additional leave to 26 weeks.

These steps reflect how fast the paid sick leave is one of the options that is weighing President Donald trump, to protect vulnerable workers and the American economy from mers — climbed to the top of the national agenda.

At a briefing at the White house, Mike Pence said that he had heard from the governors that hourly wage workers are forced to go to work, even if they are sick.

“The President is working with congressional leaders to make sure that no one feels the risk of losing a job or wages because can be infected with coronavirus, said Pence, who heads a task force of administration of the coronavirus. We say to people: “If you get sick, stay home”, and the President instructed the team to develop economic policy which is very clearly given to understand that we will support these hard-working Americans.”

The speaker of the house of representatives Nancy Pelosi, minority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer and other senior Democrats in Congress urged trump to take steps to protect workers, including paid sick leave for those who are in quarantine or caring for children left at home in connection with the closing of the school.

In the first week of March, Senator Patty Murray, Washington, and a member of the house of representatives Rosa De Lauro, Connecticut, has proposed a bill that would require all employers to provide employees with 14 days of paid sick leave during emergency situations in public health, including the current threat.

“In the richest country in the history of the world it is outrageous that we cannot guarantee everyone a paid holiday, said Senator Bernie Sanders on Saturday on Twitter. We cannot allow corporate greed has jeopardized the health of society.”

Federal law does not require that employers offer paid sick leave, although it is required in 12 States and Washington, D.C., as well as in 30 cities and local jurisdictions. The law on paid sick leave in Nevada, entered into force at the beginning of this year. In Maine it will come into force in 2021, according to the National conference of state legislatures.

Typically, these laws require that employees earn a minimum number of paid sick hours or days in a year.

Like Amazon, Apple, Uber and other companies react to the outbreak of coronavirus

Coronavirus has given new urgency to the issue of whether all workers receive paid sick leave.

King County in Washington state, most affected by coronavirus, encouraged residents to work from home. The professional workers of large corporations from Amazon to Google given the green light to work remotely. This samkranti, assisted by tools such as video conferencing and group messaging, means that they are exposed to much less risk of getting sick.

Some companies, including Microsoft and Amazon, has promised to continue to pay hourly employees such as kitchen staff, cleaners and bus drivers, even if their working time is shortened.

Apple has stated that it encourages its employees to Silicon valley to work from home until the end of the month to stop the spread of coronavirus. A few days later the company said that it also provides additional paid sick time to employees retailers with symptoms relevant COVID-19.

Tens of thousands of workers who deliver hot meals and food or carry passengers are at much greater risk of contact with people infected with the virus, but classified by their employers as independent contractors, they do not have the benefits that have with their fellow “white collar”.

Senator mark Warner sent letters to the heads of leading companies, including Uber, Lyft and Postmates, urging them “to publicly commit ourselves to give priority to the economic security of your employees and the wider public health during the response to an outbreak of coronavirus”.

Uber says it will compensate drivers for up to 14 days of illness if they diagnose COVID-19 or if they are quarantined by health authorities. Lyft will do the same for an indefinite period of time.

Delivery service Instacart and Postmates implement the delivery of “no contact”, and DoorDash says that customers can add the user to your mobile app so that drivers could leave orders at the door.

Instacart, the company introduced a new sick pay policy in stores across the country, including employees, part-timers, and independent contractors. All employees, part-time work in Instacart now have access to pay sick leave, and any employee working part-time, who was diagnosed with “coronavirus”, placed in mandatory isolation or quarantine are entitled to payment for up to 14 days, says the company.

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