It’s an anxious time for all of us – with increased calls for social distancing, schools across the country transitioning to virtual learning, and more cases of COVID-19 being reported every day it’s hard to know how to proceed forward in the midst of so much uncertainty. We too are experiencing anxiety for our families and communities but also for the frontline and low-wage employees and gig economy workers disproportionally impacted by this public health crisis. We started this work to provide opportunity and mobility to frontline employees and this crisis has confirmed our focus and resolve to work with all of you to better support them.
We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst because changing employer practices for hiring, retaining and advancing frontline employees is now more important than ever before. This is a critical time for employers to provide economic opportunity for all because our humanity, economy and democracy depend on it – and it is our job as your partner in this work to figure it out alongside you.
We are already seeing examples of companies taking steps to support their employees and gig economy workers through difficult times. Uber just enacted a policy to provide 14 days of paid sick leave to drivers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in quarantine.
Walmart, the USA’s largest employer, announced a similar policy offering two weeks of paid leave if associates are sick or quarantined – the distinction is that it does not come out of their personal paid leave balance, and those who are affected longer can get up to 26 weeks of pay replacement.
In a country where 40% of people don’t have enough savings to manage a $400 emergency expense, these programs help build resilience in tough times.
As we press forward, we also know that those of us who are practicing social distancing may be feeling isolated. We encourage you to stay connected to our community of change makers and Opportunity Employment champions for support as we continue this important work.