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Weekly Roundup: What Employers Are Doing to Contend with COVID-19

From $1,000 employee bonuses to direct efforts to help their staff’s local communities, many employers are demonstrating leadership and stepping up with bold people-over-profit decisions in the face of these tumultuous times.

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To date, states have taken a number of actions aimed at reducing existing barriers to testing and treatment for those affected by the coronavirus. The Kaiser Family Foundation has compiled a comprehensive list of specific policy actions, along with data on current COVID-19 cases and deaths. KFF also has gathered additional state-level data on health coverage and provider capacity within each state.

Additionally, Baker McKenzie has provided a global guide to 11 key issues facing employers amid the pandemic.

WorldatWork continues to monitor the situation as it relates to the workplace, with a list of 10 action steps and a resources page with tips and information related to pandemic planning.

The following list of articles covers policies and practices companies have recently instituted to contend with the situation.

Employers Stepping Up

Bank of America to Offer Deferred Payments on Mortgages
Bank of America, one of the nation’s top lenders, will offer homeowners emergency relief on mortgages amid the economic uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, the bank announced a program in which borrowers can defer payments on mortgages as well as auto loans and small business loans to the end of the loan. Late fees will also be refunded on consumer and small business credit cards and business loans. Deferments and refunded late fees will come on a case-by-case basis, the bank said. 

Lenders Stepping to the Plate
Lenders consisting of Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Quicken Loans announced a plan for clients to defer payments during the public health crisis, The New York Times reported.

The Statistics
This Yahoo Finance article touches on a survey that shows how most businesses are stepping up to be proactive during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Extra Pay & Expanded Benefits

Facebook Assisting Workers with Expenses
Facebook Inc. is paying all of its 45,000 employees an extra $1,000 to help manage expenses during the COVID-19 outbreak, reports Bloomberg. The bonus applies to full-time employees, who are fully remote at the moment, therefore don’t have access to their usual catered meals, gyms and other services provided by Facebook.  

Retailers Closing Shop, but Still Paying Workers
Retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Nike are closing thousands of stores across the country for two weeks to help stem the spread of the coronavirus. This is a temporary move and the companies have said they will continue paying their store workers and taking online orders, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Workday Shoring Up Benefits
Workday is offering several employee benefits to support staff through the coronavirus outbreak, one of which is a payment worth two weeks’ pay. The company has also set up a relief fund to help employees who need additional support and it has expanded its back-up childcare benefit and sick pay policy.

Cuban Reimbursing Employees Who Patronize Small Businesses
Mark Cuban Companies announced that they will reimburse any of their employees (including those who work for the Dallas Mavericks) for all lunch and coffee purchases from local, independent small businesses. 

Target Updating Childcare Benefits
Target said it will give all of its employees access to a backup family care benefit that was previously offered to a portion of workers to help them through the pandemic. The backup daycare benefit provides workers with 20 days of “in-center childcare or in-home child- and eldercare” through a partner network, writes Human Resource Executive

Paid Sick Leave 

Coronavirus Package Includes Paid Leave Mandate
The United States Senate passed a multibillion-dollar emergency aid package on Wednesday to confront the economic effects of the coronavirus. Included in the package is mandatory paid leave requirements for employers with less than 500 employees. 

Uber Sick Leave
Uber announced a ‘top-up’ sick pay policy for its drivers and delivery workers, but will only pay it to those with medical documentation of either a COVID-19 diagnosis or a health authority requiring them to self-isolate.

Telework

NASA Encouraging Telework
After two of its employees tested positive for coronavirus, NASA made telework mandatory in two centers, while encouraging other employees to work remotely if they can.

Majority Asking Employees to Stay Home
A survey finds that 88% of global HR executives have encouraged or required employees to work from home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some Employers Holding Out
This Wall Street Journal article notes several prominent companies, such as ad agency holding company Omnicom Group Inc., are still requiring employees to come into the office.

Layoffs, Extended Leave and Furloughs

Americans Are Losing Work
This Wall Street Journal article paints a picture of how many U.S. employers are having cut staff or reduce hours for their workforce as the coronavirus impact continues to reveal itself.  

Marriott Begins Furloughs
Marriott International Inc., the world’s largest hotel company with nearly 1.4 million rooms worldwide, said it is starting to furlough what it expects will be tens of thousands of employees as it ramps up hotel closings across the globe, reports The Wall Street Journal. The employees at these properties won’t be paid while on furlough but the bulk will continue to receive health-care benefits that are ultimately paid by the hotel owner, which for the vast majority of the brand’s properties isn’t Marriott.

Layoffs Abound
This Forbes article lists several companies that have laid off employees because of the coronavirus, which includes union employees in the music industry, film workers, events and hospitality.

Amazon Hiring
While some companies have chosen to lay off or furlough workers, Amazon’s online, delivery-oriented business is poised to hire an additional 100,000 employees in the U.S. as millions of people turn to online deliveries at an unprecedented pace, reports The Wall Street Journal. Amazon said it will raise pay for all employees in fulfillment centers, transportation, stores and deliveries in the U.S. and Canada by $2 an hour through April.


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