If your company has been deemed critical infrastructure during the COVID-19 crisis, your people have a big role to play. While most Americans shelter in place to avoid exposure to coronavirus, essential workers are on the frontlines every day, serving the public and placing themselves at increased risk.
Many employers are going out of their way to provide extra support to their essential workers right now—and here are three simple but “essential” ways employers can look out for their people during COVID-19.
Make Sure Workers Get Paid Promptly and Correctly
Now, more than ever, is not the time for delayed or incorrect paychecks. Make sure your frontline managers are signing off on time cards promptly so they don’t hold up payroll. If you have any chronic weaknesses in your payroll processing system—such as calculating split shifts or overtime pay correctly—monitor these closely until you can fix the problem.
In addition, be flexible about making short-term pay rule changes, assuming your payroll system allows it. For example, Amazon recently began providing hazard pay to employees, including its contracted cleaning crews. If one of your clients elected to offer hazard pay to some of your onsite workers, how swiftly could your payroll provider enact that change?
To help workers keep up with expenses during the crisis, some employers are shortening their pay periods from bi-weekly to weekly schedules. Others are considering a switch to daily payroll. Would that move benefit your hourly workforce—and, if so, would your payroll system be able to handle it?
Put Safety First: Provide Personal Protective Equipment
If there’s one thing frontline workers want it’s for their employers to observe best practices when it comes to their health and safety.
For example, in the last month, workers at a number of large employers have staged protests and walkouts, demanding increased protection against COVID-19 exposure. In addition to hazard pay, their demands include hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, deep-cleanings at facilities where employees have tested positive, and stronger social distancing practices.
In addition, some janitorial and food service businesses—particularly those that serve hospitals and healthcare facilities—are reporting higher absenteeism because workers are afraid they’ll get sick by coming to work.
By providing workers with extensive training on COVID-19 prevention, ensuring their crews observe social distancing best practices, and making adequate Personal Protective Equipment available to onsite employees, employers can help keep their people healthier and give them greater peace of mind.
Furthermore, such moves may help limit potential insurance claims and legal actions down the road. Employment law experts predict a barrage of coronavirus-related lawsuits in the coming days, including discrimination, retaliation and whistleblower claims. In fact, earlier this month, Walmart was hit with a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of an employee who died from COVID-19.
Provide Documentation that Workers are Essential Employees
In states where strict shutdown orders are in effect, some legal and HR experts recommend providing essential workers with documentation that verifies their essential status. Workers are advised to carry their letters while they’re commuting in the event that they’re stopped, especially if their commute crosses state lines.
Not only would such a letter ease workers’ minds (traffic stops are stressful under the best of times), it may also instill more pride in the work they’re performing.
Ideally, the letter would be printed on your letterhead, signed by an executive, and include the following information:
- The employee’s name
- The employer’s name
- The assertion that the employer is deemed an essential business (or a supplier of one) under the applicable state’s executive order
- The assertion that the employee is exempt from stay-at-home restrictions while traveling to and from work.
- The name and phone number of a manager or HR representative to contact in the event of questions.
For a sample essential employee letter, click here.
The Right Support Goes a Long Way
While you’re supporting your hourly workers, your HCM provider should be supporting you. At EPAY, we’re doing everything possible to help our customers navigate this crisis. That includes providing 24/7 service (as always) and offering timely employer updates through our Coronavirus Resource Center.
In addition, thanks to our flexible payroll software, we’re helping customers keep up with hazard pay requirements. For example, we recently helped one janitorial client implement an immediate $2 per hour pay raise in under 20 minutes.
And of course, our workforce management system enables our customers cut labor costs by 5% everyday—at a time when reducing costs have never been more important. If you’d like to learn more, let’s talk.