The 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak is an ongoing global outbreak of coronavirus disease that has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. It is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China.
It has led to a global economic slow down as people in affected areas are advised to stay indoors. China being the most affected means manufacturing will slow down or stop, limiting supplies of tech products. That means no more work for residents and consequently no pay. However, big tech has taken a close to unanimous stand to keep paying their hourly workers who are forced to stay at home because of the crisis.
Microsoft showed first the benevolence late Thursday night when it announced that the company will be committed to paying normal hourly wages to non-employees providing services to Microsoft workers, like bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
More major world tech companies are following suit as some the biggest technology companies in the U.S. have agreed to pay wages for hourly employees impacted by the ongoing corporate response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Facebook joined the consensus yesterday, announcing that it is committed to paying its “contingent” workers. Other companies in the same accord according to a report in Axios, include Amazon, Google, and Twitter.
“We will continue to pay all hourly employees that support our campus in Seattle and Bellevue – from food service to security guards to janitorial staff – during the time our employees are asked to work from home,” the company said in a statement. “In addition, we will subsidize one month of rent for the local small businesses that operate inside our owned buildings to help support them during this period.”
These companies provide employment to a significant number of people. Continuing to offer wages at a time like this will lower anxiety for these people and curb the impacts of the crisis on hourly workers who have been asked to temporarily stopped working until the situation is brought under control. It is the right thing to do from both a health and safety perspective.
The move has seen positive comments and praise from labor organizations. But organizers are encouraging companies to cushion the blow hourly workers will face from lost wages due to office closures.
The issue has even caught the attention of the Democratic Senator Mark Warner from Virginia, who is pressuring gig economy companies Uber, Lyft, Postmates and DoorDash to provide compensation for workers impacted by the coronavirus.
“I strongly urge that you attempt to address the potential financial hardship for your workers if they are sick or have to self-quarantine during this time,” Warner wrote. “In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, it is critical that platform companies lead by example by committing that economic uncertainty will not be deterrents to their workers following public health guidance during the response.”
While support staff stay home with guaranteed wages, employees will still have to work and earn their wages howbeit this time working from home. Apple on Friday asked employees at its 12,000-person Apple Park campus in Silicon Valley to work from home if possible because of coronavirus risks. It is also asking workers in the Seattle area to work from home though the company’s retail stores in Santa Clara County remain open.
The other tech companies including, Alphabet Inc. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and HP are advising their employees to work from home since most of the work can be done online and through conference calls
The number of confirmed cases is a call for concern, well even just one case is a call for concern. As of Thursday, March 5th, there have been up to 20 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the county