The latest talk about the upcoming two trillion dollar aid package that Congress is currently negotiating includes possible provisions to pay those who have been or will be laid off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic their full pay for up to 4 months.
In order to protect jobs and the overall economy from total collapse, extreme measures like this could help.
But if this is done, it could also exacerbate a big problem with unintended consequences.
Right now, we have essential businesses still operating…all at very frantic levels. These are the Walmarts, Walgreens, gas stations, hospitals and other such businesses providing essential products and services during the pandemic.
Not only are they still working, but they are working at levels higher than ever. Walmart, for example, is operating at levels higher than Black Friday Christmas season levels. And they are doing it without the normal increase in seasonal employees. This is putting a great strain on the workers. And it should go without saying what the hospitals and healthcare providers are going through.
Full disclosure…my wife is an employee at Walmart. I am getting information about things first hand. It’s crazy and extremely stressful.
Walmart is desperately looking to hire an additional 150,000+ temporary employees right now in order to alleviate the pressure.
But now, all of those workers who are laid off from their regular jobs that might be looking for something temporary are going to be receiving their full pay while waiting this out at home. While that may be the right thing to do, it’s going to make it very difficult for the Walmarts to attract temporary workers. Why would out of work people who are already receiving their full pay to do nothing instead choose to go work at Walmart for a while, not only having to deal with the stress of working in that hectic environment, but also greatly exposing themselves to the virus?
This makes it more difficult and stressful for those workers who are still working there.
They don’t qualify for the full unemployment that everyone else is going to get because they have not been laid off. So while everyone else is home watching Netflix, playing games, and stockpiling toilet paper, these workers are working twice as hard, having to deal with the hoarders, and greatly exposing themselves to the virus, putting themselves and their family at greater risk.
They deserve and should receive hazard pay included in this two trillion dollar bill that is being considered. They should be receiving double-time pay for their work for as long as everyone else is receiving their full paychecks while not working. Not only will this compensate the workers for their risk, but it can also incentivize others to choose to take on that temporary job in order to get double pay.
It’s the right thing to do for the workers caught in a terrible situation, and it’s the right thing to do for the country to ensure these essential businesses and health care facilities operate as best they can during these extreme circumstances.