Employees at some of the country’s largest companies who were not on sick pay or family leave quit significantly faster than other workers during the pandemic, according to a congressional report released Tuesday — the latest indication of how the absence of social safety net policies in the United States could affect the economy. affect the workforce.
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis issued the report based on internal data from 12 major companies: AT&T, Berkshire Hathaway, Boeing, Chevron, Cisco, Citigroup, Comcast, ExxonMobil, Oracle, Salesforce, Walmart and The Walt Disney Co. (Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.)
Such internal data is generally not available to researchers and researchers studying equality in the workplace. The Democrat-led committee selected the companies based on reports that each saw more than 1,000 layoffs during the pandemic. Republicans on the committee did not participate in the report.
Rep. South Carolina’s James E. Clyburn, the third-rate Democrat in the House and chairman of the subcommittee, said in a statement that the report underlined the need to introduce a universal paid leave program.
“American workers deserve to know that no matter what crisis they face, they don’t have to choose between feeding their families and caring for themselves and their loved ones,” he said in part.
Leave and retention
Most companies surveyed by the commission said they gave all employees paid sick leave, but a quarter did not. The report found that between 2019 and 2021, workers without paid sick leave quit three to four times faster than comparable workers.
Part-time workers fared particularly poorly: 55% had no access to paid sick leave, compared to 14% of full-time workers, according to the report. Statistics from the Ministry of Labor from the start of the pandemic, quoted in the report. In the report, the results were not broken down by company.
The study found similar results when looking at employees on family and care leave. When employees took advantage of the benefit, they quit at lower rates and saw higher rates for raises and promotions.
The report provides another snapshot of the ways in which racial, gender and class rifts have emerged as labor market inequalities during the coronavirus crisis. Experts have said that lack of robust protection in many frontline workers – such as sick pay and strict Covid-19 security measures – contributed to the country’s struggle to contain the virus during the first two years of the pandemic, and to the disproportionate burden facing minorities and lower incomes.
The US and South Korea are the only two members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development — a group that represents 38 countries, including most of the world’s largest economies — without national requirements for paid leave for employees. About a quarter of workers in the US not have paid sick leavea share that is higher among lower-wage workers.
Congress introduced a temporary sick leave requirement for companies with 50 to 500 employees at the start of the pandemic, but that mandate expired at the end of 2020. After the Democrats won back the White House and Senate, they decided pushed to make sick and family leave policies permanent but removed those provisions from the legislation last year during controversial negotiations.
“Workers who are generally most vulnerable based on race, or who are hourly workers, suffer the most when times get tough, whether we’re talking about the pandemic or something else,” said Rebecca Givan, associate professor of labor studies . at Rutgers University. “Employers are doing nothing to undo that.”
The hour division
The report also underscores a point some labor activists have made since complaints about labor shortages began to dominate political discussions mid-last year: low wages and a lack of benefits were factors in the increase in employee turnover and recruitment difficulties during the pandemic.
In the congressional report, salaried workers — who typically enjoy greater benefits and stability — outperformed hourly workers within companies. Clockworkers were fired more often and were more likely to quit, the study found.
For example, among black workers, hourly workers were fired 75% of the time at higher rates than their salaried counterparts, while hourly Latino workers were terminated at higher rates than Latino wages 44% of the time.
That gap between salaried and hourly workers highlighted other existing inequalities in the workplace. Female timekeepers had worse results than male timekeepers 30% of the time, but among wage earners the difference was less than 10%. Women who were paid by the hour were much less likely to receive pay increases than their male counterparts than salaried women.
Both black and Asian timekeepers were less likely to be promoted than their white counterparts, while black timekeepers were fired at higher rates than white ones.
According to a previous study, workers aged 55 or older were 17% more likely to become unemployed during the first six months of the pandemic than younger workers. study by AARP, and job loss within that demographic was more often than not involuntary, the report noted. Congressional research data supported these early numbers, showing that: workers over the age of 50 recorded at lower rates than younger workers between 2019 and 2021.
The subcommittee called for better data from corporations and federal agencies on workforce demographics and benefits and said a universal paid leave program is critical to the country.
“A universal paid sick leave program would be especially beneficial for hourly workers, who are often unable to stay home when sick,” it said. “Ensuring that all U.S. workers have access to these benefits would also increase the country’s preparedness for future health crises.”