The coronavirus is expected to make a significant impact on the U.S. workforce, who are accustomed to continue working when feeling sick. Now, with the spread of this highly contagious infection, the decision to go to work can have more consequences than a normal cold.
American workers are struggling with this shift due to their limited access to paid sick leave, as well as the lack of clarity for protecting employees in the workplace. Furthermore, the Trump administration has been attempting to keep federal workers from telecommuting.
While many employees have no other option than to work remotely, they are faced with possibly losing out on income.
Democratic members of Congress have drafted a bill that makes it easier for sick workers to stay at home without financial repercussions. The bill would require employers to provide an additional 14 days of paid sick leave in case of a public health emergency.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to protect their employees from hazards that can cause physical harm or death, but its mandates are vague. Currently, there are no regulations in place that address the spread of airborne infectious diseases and while there have been calls to fill this void, no progress has been made during the current administration.
Overall, workers in the U.S. lack the proper workplace protections and paid leave benefits, but Coronavirus may push companies to rethink their policies.