Tool Shows How Employers’ Policies Affect Frontline Workers

Posted August 5, 2020, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Waiter with customer

Since March, JUST Cap­i­tal, a part­ner of the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, has tracked how America’s largest employ­ers have respond­ed to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, reveal­ing var­i­ous ways in which their prac­tices are impact­ing front­line workers.

Front­line work­ers, many of whom are young peo­ple of col­or, have been hit hard by the recent eco­nom­ic tur­moil spurred by the out­break, with many going unem­ployed or con­tin­u­ing to work at var­i­ous job sites, includ­ing restau­rants, ware­hous­es or gro­cery and depart­ment stores.

JUST Capital’s COVID-19 Cor­po­rate Response Track­er keeps tabs on 301 major com­pa­nies — which col­lec­tive­ly employ many front­line work­ers — and shines a light on their var­i­ous prac­tices. The track­er is based on reviews of pub­lic reports and com­pa­ny disclosures.

How employ­ers are respond­ing to the pandemic

The tool shows that a size­able num­ber of these big employ­ers say they’ve had to close stores or sus­pend ser­vices (37%) and lay off employ­ees (11%). Near­ly two-thirds report adding health and safe­ty mea­sures to work sites to pro­tect work­ers and cus­tomers, includ­ing offer­ing free per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment and impos­ing social-dis­tanc­ing mea­sures. Less than a third have announced adding ben­e­fits such as addi­tion­al finan­cial assis­tance or paid sick leave and only 14% said they’d offered sup­port for depen­dents, such as childcare.

With the tool, users can also drill down into oth­er employ­ment prac­tices, includ­ing whether — and how — employ­ers are offer­ing relaxed atten­dance poli­cies and pro­vid­ing remote work and mod­i­fied schedules.

It’s impor­tant for Casey and its part­ners to under­stand how busi­ness­es are respond­ing to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and how their prac­tices are impact­ing front­line work­ers, par­tic­u­lar­ly young work­ers of col­or,” says Alli­son Ger­ber, senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foun­da­tion. We hope that var­i­ous stake­hold­ers use this tool as a resource to learn about the sup­ports that front­line work­ers need at this time and about prac­tices employ­ers are using to best sup­port them.” 

Views on the role of large pub­lic employ­ers dur­ing the pandemic

Accord­ing to a JUST Cap­i­tal sur­vey, Amer­i­cans expect large cor­po­rate employ­ers to pro­vide safe and flex­i­ble work­ing con­di­tions and main­tain as many jobs as pos­si­ble as the nation grap­ples with the pan­dem­ic — which research sug­gests will be impor­tant for con­tain­ing eco­nom­ic hardship.

Stud­ies show that long peri­ods of unem­ploy­ment can be detri­men­tal to people’s future job prospects and pay, espe­cial­ly for young work­ers, who, before the pan­dem­ic, were over­ly rep­re­sent­ed in indus­tries that were hit hard­est by stay-at-home orders and social-dis­tanc­ing measures.

The sur­vey, con­duct­ed in May with the Har­ris Poll, also found that more than 70 per­cent of Amer­i­cans say they want com­pa­nies to insti­tute social-dis­tanc­ing mea­sures at work sites; pro­vide per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment, such as face­masks and gloves, to front­line work­ers; and give all work­ers addi­tion­al time off or offer flex­i­ble arrange­ments so they can care for loved ones and children.

Learn strate­gies for help­ing low-income work­ers in uncer­tain times

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