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    Healthcare | 3 min read

    How The Coronavirus Outbreak Has Affected Healthcare Hourly Workers

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Infection, the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US as of March 31 has reached 163,539, while 2,860 people have died. Many industries have been hit hard. The restaurant industry estimated a loss of $225 billion and has laid off over 3 million people. Meanwhile, the hotel industry says it’s expecting a loss of 4 million jobs. As the first line of defense against the coronavirus, the healthcare industry is not spared from the devastating effects of the pandemic as well. 

    Increased Demand and Longer Working Hours

    The demand for healthcare workers has definitely risen, along with that for workers in related fields. For instance, some of the US’s largest pharmacy retailers, CVS Health and Walgreens plan to recruit nearly 60,000 employees combined.

    However, the pool of qualified workers for healthcare institutions to hire from is very low. This inevitably has increased the working hours for those already working in the healthcare industry. 24% of hourly workers in the healthcare industry reported having to work more hours now than before the outbreak started.

    Poor Compensation

    While many people have been laid off in the food and beverage, hotel, and airline industries, many of those who are still working have received a lot of support from their employers. For example, they started offering ‘catastrophe pay’ to employees if they had to stay home after exhibiting symptoms, or had come into close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. How does the healthcare industry fare compared to this?

    According to international advisory firm Willis Towers Watson, most organizations have yet to provide premium pay (such as overtime pay, an additional hourly kicker, or a bonus shift differential) to its staff as many believe that the increased workload is “part of the job.” While nurses are most likely to receive this bonus due to increased exposure and having to take up more shifts due to manpower shortages, hourly workers are unlikely to even get paid for time off due to exposure to the virus. 

    A survey by Willis Towers Watson revealed that only 65% of their respondents in the healthcare industry would pay hourly workers should they need to stay home if they tested positive. This number falls even lower to 42% when asked if they would pay hourly workers working in healthcare organizations should their workplace experience a closure. 

    What’s Next?

    The global pandemic isn't about to go away any time soon, and it does not seem like we have concrete answers as to when it will. According to the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Bruce Aylward, whether or not the virus will disappear “may be determined by us and our response as much as the virus.”

    As the demand for healthcare workers continues to rise, it is essential that all healthcare institutions take into consideration the risks they are facing on a daily basis and provide the appropriate compensation.

    With all industries across all states heavily impacted by the global pandemic, now is the time to stand together as a community. We’ve collated different resources to help deal with coronavirus and its effect on businesses - and for companies looking to hire for essential roles at this time, we’re doing our part to help as well. Together we can see this through.

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    Nigel Seah

    Nigel is not just a marketer at Workstream, he is also a graduate of Psychology and Marketing of Singapore Management University. He has multiple experiences in various areas of marketing - advertising, email marketing, and content writing. Fun fact, prior to joining Workstream, he took a semester off school to intern at SAP in Brazil.

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