What employers need to know about the coronavirus
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As efforts to contain the coronavirus continue around the world, companies are thinking about how to reduce the risk to their workforce.
It’s a good time for employers to be diligent about addressing illness prevention in the workplace, according to Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.
“There are a couple of things that really are important, from a legal perspective. You don’t want to negligently or knowingly expose your workforce to a novel infection like a coronavirus,” Gostin told Marketplace’s David Brancaccio.
Gostin said employers should be proactive about protecting employee health, especially if they have an office in China or if employees have recently traveled there.
That means having more conversations about health with everyone, and encouraging workers to take a sick day or work from home if they need to.
Gostin emphasized that this doesn’t mean having these conversations with only some employees or engaging in racial stereotyping.
“Sometimes disease epidemics bring out the worst in us. You should never make special arrangements or single people out based on their nationality or their race,” said Gostin.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
With a slow vaccine rollout so far, how has the government changed its approach?
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced changes to how the federal government is distributing vaccine doses. The CDC has expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older, along with people with conditions that might raise their risks of complications from COVID-19. The new approach also looks to reward those states that are the most efficient by giving them more doses, but critics say that won’t address underlying problems some states are having with vaccine rollout.
What kind of help can small businesses get right now?
A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.
What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?
New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.
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