During this unprecedented time, non-essential workers have been asked to work remotely, and those who cannot do so have had their positions of employment suspended. While staying home is certainly the safest thing that people can do right now, especially those who are at increased risk of severe infection; there are some jobs that simply cannot be performed from home. Consider the following about who is considered an essential worker during the COVID-19 crisis, risks these workers face, and what to do if you are an essential worker who needs legal counsel.
Who is Essential During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The list of who is considered “essential” during this pandemic is long, but can be divided into categories. These categories include:
- Healthcare and public health workers, including nurses, doctors, psychologists, hospital and laboratory personnel, workers conducting critical research, and more;
- Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders, including police officers, firefighters, private security, search and rescue personnel, and more;
- Food and agriculture workers, such as farmers, food distributors, food packers, grocery store workers, workers supporting grocery store and other food operations, restaurant carry-out/takeaway workers, food manufacturer employees, and more;
- Energy workers, including workers in the electricity industry, petroleum industry, and natural gas and propane gas industries; and
- Financial services workers, including those responsible for clearing financial transactions.
The above list is not inclusive; many other classes of workers and industries have been classified as essential, but the above categories comprise the majority of workers.
Risks to Essential Employees
Essential employees who are being asked to work right now, oftentimes in direct contact with other people, face a number of serious risks. These risks include:
- The risk of contracting the coronavirus and suffering severe health consequences, including death, as a result;
- The risk of contracting the virus and passing it on to another person, including a loved family member or friend;
- Mental health risks due to increased job demands, stress, depression, and fear;
- Risks of retaliation if workers state that they do not want to work, are unhappy about workplace safety standards, or need to stay home to care for themselves or a loved one;
- Increased risk of injury for workers who are working more hours or performing tasks outside of their usual job duties (e.g. the risk of a repetitive strain injury to a grocery store worker who must now assist with unloading and unloading due to a worker shortage) and
- Risk of lost wages/economic harm if workers choose not to work.
Do You Have Questions About Your Legal Rights as an Essential Working During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
If you have questions about your legal rights, are unsure what protections are available to you, or have been retaliated against by your employer in regards to an action you took in response to coronavirus, please do not hesitate to call our experienced employee rights attorneys at the law office of McOmer McOmber & Luber. We appreciate you and your work during this time of crisis and want to help make sure you understand your rights. Call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation.