Workplace Culture

What are employers doing for workers amid the increased stress of COVID-19?

Meghan McCarty Carino Nov 13, 2020
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Drazen Zigic/iStock via Getty Images
Workplace Culture

What are employers doing for workers amid the increased stress of COVID-19?

Meghan McCarty Carino Nov 13, 2020
Heard on:
Drazen Zigic/iStock via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The United States is dealing with a lot right now, collectively: record COVID-19 cases, record hospitalizations, widespread unemployment, financial insecurity — and many won’t even be able to spend the holidays with loved ones.

Some employers get what their workers are going through, and they’re responding to the increased stress. Some employers don’t.

It’s been a tough couple weeks for Courtney Copenhaver, a pharmacy technician at a hospital in Elkhart, Indiana, that’s seen a surge in COVID patients.

“We’ve been severely short-staffed,” Copenhaver said. “I mean, we don’t really have time for lunch breaks.”

Copenhaver said she has struggled with depression and anxiety, and woke up recently with a migraine coming on, so she took a mental health day off of work.

“You know, how can you take care of patients if you can’t take care of yourself?” she asked.

In a recent Marketplace-Edison Research Poll, about a quarter of respondents said their employer had given them additional paid time off during the pandemic.

Mike Spinale is the head of HR at Boston software company Appneta, which is giving employees every other Friday off until the end of the year.

“The intent was step away from your screens, step away from your Slack, take time for yourself,” Spinale said.

But these kinds of benefits most often go to those with higher-wage, white-collar jobs, potentially leaving out many low-wage essential workers.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

Read More

Collapse

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.