Mercer Poll Results: Will employers compensate healthy employees who are unable to work?

As the number of cases of COVID-19 in the US starts to build, employers need to prepare for the possibility that employees will not be able to get to their office or job site in a given location for reasons beyond their control, such as a mandated quarantine or a shutdown in public transportation.  A key decision for employers in this scenario is whether and how to compensate healthy employees who are not able to work. Responses to an employer poll on Mercer’s US Health News website suggests that while many companies have not finalized their contingency plans (40%), they are more likely to continue to pay employees than not – 48% vs. 6%.  Another 6% say that all employees can work from home.  When asked for how long they would continue pay, just over half (52%) had not yet decided. The rest were split between “up to one week” (12%), “up to two weeks” (8%), and “more than two weeks if needed” (28%).  Based on 52 respondents (mostly from organizations with 500 or more employees), the findings suggest that employers realize that decisions they make for the short-term will have consequences for employee relations in the long-term.  Many are not willing, at this point, anyway, to ask employees to use paid time off or go without pay when they are willing and able to work but can’t.  

Beth Umland
by Beth Umland

Director of Research, Health, Mercer

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