At the time of this writing, Tennessee has over 2200 positive cases of COVID-19. In the midst of the outbreak, establishments dubbed “essential businesses” are still insistent on keeping their employees at work. Given its central location, Tennessee is a hub for shipping food and other goods. Hence, it enjoys a large amount of market traffic. Now, its economic strength has become a health hazard.
Self-isolation and social distancing have become obligatory across the United States. Faced with COVID-19, countries across the globe have relatively fewer cases reported. Many businesses are still reeling from the shock. Employees are beginning to question their rights as they are torn between preserving their health and the struggle to earn a living.
The State Of Employee Attendance Amid The Outbreak
The Centers for Disease Control had strongly advised against there being over 10 people gathered at the same time. This clashes with the staffing requirements of many places of work, such as warehouses and grocery stores. A major example of such a workplace is the Nike Distribution Center, which employs 2,600 people. Many other “essential businesses” need to maintain a high employee attendance to keep functioning properly. This has been a significant cause for concern for employees concerned about their health.
What Employees Can Expect from the Government
According to Alan Crone, attorney for the Tennessee Employment Law Center, the government is working on setting provisions in place to help employees who aren’t sick yet. On the national level, President Trump had signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Now a law, it gives 10 days of paid emergency leave to employees who have caught the virus. Employees caring for someone who has caught COVID-19, or otherwise has been put into strict quarantine, are also extended the same aid.
The 10 days of paid emergency leave could only go so far, however. The quality of business’ Tennessee worker’s comp insurance and health insurance packages will define how well they can aid their employees. Additionally, companies with over 500 employees are exempt from the aid. This makes employees of large companies even more reliant on what safety nets their employers have in place.
How Companies Are Dealing With The Crisis On Their Own
Considering the recent developments in the outbreak, many companies have taken it upon themselves to assure employees that their safety is a top priority. Nike offered many employees work-from-home solutions. As for those who absolutely must be on site, they gave staggered shift schedules. This ensures that as few people as possible were gathered together at one time.
FedEx has implemented security screening in areas where large numbers of employees gather. Shuttles, delivery vans, and other vehicle employees are also constantly scanned and kept free of the virus. Businesses big and small are following the examples of FedEx and Nike. if your employer doesn’t give you sufficient care, approach your company’s HR department. If they don’t honor your complaint, the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration encourages that you file a complaint with them instead.
In a time when authorities insist that people are safer at home, it’s best to do so unless your place of work is listed as an “essential business”. Even if it is, your employer has an obligation to take every precaution and arrange all the aid you need to secure your health.