But state law is a piecemeal approach, and the protection or welfare of workers depends largely on what the employer will provide. Ifeoma Ajunwa, an associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said employers operate like their own private government and are free to manage their business. Ajunwa said that Covid exposed “the limited powers that the government can impose on employers”. “The pandemic did expose this, especially in terms of covid-19 preventive measures or covid-19 operating procedures.”
This means that a large extent depends on workers’ research and understanding of their rights.
Harvard University epidemiologist Justin Feldman (Justin Feldman) wrote: “If you are one of the 94% of ununionized private sector workers, you may not know the existence of benefits.” covid-19 and workplace“Even if you know it exists, it doesn’t mean you can exercise it without retaliation.”
In a statement, the New York Department of Labor told me that it had received “various complaints” regarding violations of the covid-19 vaccination leave law, and stated that it “attempted to collect unpaid wages or provide for those who did not get paid. compensation”. Ask for leave as required. ”
But even laws that ostensibly support workers can ignore those in the most precarious jobs. The New York Department of Labor said that any worker who was denied vaccination leave should file a complaint, but declined to specify whether so-called odd workers were covered. (Ajunwa of Chapel Hill said that because the law uses the word “employee”, it does not include odd jobs, and they do not get medical insurance through work.)
Public health experts emphasize that getting people vaccinated is not just a foolproof strategy. Feldman said the government can arrange a series of paid vacations for workers in different departments to vaccinate, but we still need to integrate it with other public health strategies, such as door-to-door.
Misunderstandings about covid-19 also need to be addressed: Feldman pointed out that young workers may think that they are not susceptible to the severe effects of the disease, especially if they have worked personally and taken minimal precautions throughout the pandemic Measures and did not get sick. After hearing peers, the media, or commentators downplay the risks, it may be particularly difficult for them to change their minds.
“We need to treat people vaccinated as a national emergency, which means not to treat it as a personal failure,” he said. “We need to do many different things at the same time to see what works.”
Rhea Boyd, a pediatrician in the San Francisco Bay Area, says people need more information to be persuaded by incentives.She founded conversation, Where black and Latino health care workers provide their communities with reliable information about the covid-19 vaccine.
“One of the main motivations is personal gain,” Boyd said in an email. “Once people get the information they need, according to science, it will make other’carrots’ more like icing on the cake.”
What would it look like?
“Only when everyone is vaccinated will we know what is enough,” she said.
At the same time, the level of protection of front-line workers at work continues to depend on changing public health recommendations, employers’ own policies, and the whims of customers who can choose to comply or not to comply with safety measures.
Although public health officials have brought vaccine clinics to parks, churches, and June celebrations to try to change their minds, workers are observing the words and actions of their bosses.
“Employees in all walks of life get hints from employers about what they should do,” Ajunwa said. “I think this shows that employers have had a huge impact on the lives of American employees.”
This story is Pandemic Technology Project, Supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.