Of all of the essential workers right now, healthcare workers are some of the most essential. Indeed, many hospitals are understaffed, and do not have the equipment and supplies needed to provide care to critically ill patients, patients who are suffering from symptoms of the coronavirus, and patients who are sick or injured due to non-coronavirus-related reasons. Yet despite this, healthcare workers in some parts of the state and the country are being laid off. ABC News reports on the rise in unemployment amongst healthcare workers.
Healthcare Workers Laid Off and Furloughed at Small and Rural Hospitals
According to the report, healthcare workers in small and rural hospitals are being laid off or furloughed in droves, with hospitals telling employees that they need to consolidate resources during the coronavirus pandemic or that operations outside of the emergency room will be virtually ceased. The news can come as a shock to healthcare employees, many of whom are witnessing firsthand intensive care units that are overwhelmed and clearly in need of assistance
Unemployment Numbers Rise
In March of 2020, the healthcare sector lost approximately 43,000 jobs, according to a jobs report from Altarum. The number may be growing, supported by reports of a hospital in West Virginia furloughing the majority of their 6,000 employees in hospitals across the state and many similar stories in other parts of the country.
For healthcare workers, this means experiencing the same fear that many other employees nationwide are living right now: Anxiety about paying one’s bills, keeping a roof over one’s head, and putting food on the table. Leanne Helmerich, one of 600 staff members who was furloughed at Hillcrest Medical System in Oklahoma, told reporters that she’s “mostly worried about how I’m going to pay my bills,” and that it is a “big pot of emotions.”
Unemployment Benefits Extended
For employees–healthcare and otherwise–who have been laid off during this terrible time in our planet’s history, it is important to know that unemployment benefits are available. In addition to regular unemployment benefits, the United States Department of Labor has extended unemployment benefits available to employees who have exhausted regular unemployment insurance. The extension provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits.
Get Help with Unemployment and Other Employment Law Issues
At the law office of McOmber McOmber & Luber, our employment law attorneys in New Jersey understand just how shocking and upsetting being laid off is, especially during a pandemic that results in limited availability of work. If you have been furloughed or laid off and need help navigating the landscape of benefits and relief, our employment law attorneys can help. We also offer support to employees who have been wrongfully terminated during this time or believe that they have otherwise been retaliated against.
To learn more about how we can support you during the COVID-19 pandemic, please call our experienced NJ employment law attorneys directly today. We offer free consultations, and are aggressively representing our clients remotely. Do not hesitate to call if you have a question.