As the world has been adjusting their daily lives to limit the spread of the unprecedented virus named COVID-19, many workplaces have shut down in hot spot states such as California. Governor Gavin Newson ordered all non-essential employees stay home to assist in containing the spread of this virus. This Governor’s order raises the question: What is an essential worker?
The Governor has provided California residents with a list of what an essential worker is:
- Workers administering COVID-19 testing or lab workers performing critical research on response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Healthcare providers and caregivers. This list includes all medical staff, pharmacists, therapists, therapist assistants, speech pathologists and social workers.
- Workers in warehouses distributing medical supplies.
- Public Health and Community Health Workers
- Blood and plasma donors, along with the workers of the facilities that administer such affairs.
- Any public health workers that cannot work remotely to gather data.
- Researchers responding the COVID-19 requests for data.
- Workers that service the economically disadvantaged by providing food, shelter or social services to the communities that have less access to such resources.
- Emergency services such as first responders, ambulance operators, law enforcement, and emergency management systems.
- Private emergency sectors supporting medical and fire departments
- Animal Control Operators
- Public Workers maintaining the health and safety of our communities.
- Sanitation workers and safety workers such as plumbers, electricians and exterminators.
- Grocery, pharmacy and other workers that help support the distribution of food and medication.
- Restaurant employees that assist in preparing and delivering as well as takeout orders.
- Food manufacturers and supply manufacturers.
- Farm-workers, food testing lab workers and food sanitation services.
- Government payment and support employees of public aid programs.
- Animal agriculture employees.
- Energy support employees such as engineers and electrician, as well as employees that support these services.
Once employers figure out who their essential staff are, they are left with allocating work from home to the non-essential personnel. This task has proven to be challenging at best. While office staff figure out how to forward phone and computer access to their homes, employers are trying to manage their staff’s productivity. In the average office environment, there is usually a manager that is either walking around the office or the thought of a boss popping their head in keeps most employees motivated to remain on task.
While many companies are struggling to stay afloat during these difficult times, some employers are using this pandemic as an excuse to commit Public Policy Violations. A public policy violation is when an employer discriminates against its employees for their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or disabilities. Bad bosses should beware of using this virus to terminate their protected class employees. One could argue that an employer is practicing age discrimination if they mainly terminate their staff ages 40 and up.