July 18, 2020
In Health, and in Sickness
- It would behoove every employer to do what they can to enable the safe behavior of their employees.
- People should not be made to feel fearful or guilty because they are sick, or needed to care for a family member, or have a personal crisis.
Near the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the shelter at home mandates, Trader Joe’s stepped up to provide paid sick leave for employees who needed it regardless of their status. Employees new and seasoned, full and part time were all eligible to stay home if they became ill without having to suffer financially.
While it is unfair to expect a local mom and pop to provide a safety net as vast as the one a huge company such as Trader Joe’s can, it would behoove every employer to do what they can to enable the safe behavior of their employees. It is easy to say that it is an individual’s responsibility to make sure they are not contributing to the spread of illness, and that is indisputably true. However, it is just as true that those without paid sick days are generally employed in positions that offer lower pay, making it even more difficult to give up even a day’s wages.
Even if a small company cannot provide sick leave for everyone, or anyone, it can at least support employee health by encouraging sick employees to stay home without penalty. People should not be made to feel fearful or guilty because they are sick, or needed to care for a family member, or have a personal crisis. Yes, there are employees who abuse the system. There are also employers that do so. Fear of losing a job is a factor that motivates people to go to work when they should be staying home for the safety of others. This is an ongoing issue that has become more severe since the advent of COVID-19.
While businesses are not parents, and are certainly not responsible for every aspect of an employee’s life, it is sensible, and good business, to take care of employees, especially if you have good ones, when possible. This is not to say that everyone should go down with the ship when the ship can be saved by shedding cargo. This is to say that if some hard bailing will keep everyone afloat, that is probably the way to go.
The logistics can be tricky. But employers that go above and beyond for their employees do benefit in return. Employee loyalty has many benefits including increased customer care, a low turnover rate, and workers that will go above and beyond, perhaps even picking up shifts when another employee needs unexpected time off. There are a lot of ways to express all of this: give a little, get a little- you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours- etc. The bottom line is, to get through this crisis we need to be looking out for one another in whatever ways we can.