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    長期新冠已經迫使數百萬人離開工作崗位,每年造成1700億美元工資損失

    長期新冠已經迫使數百萬人離開工作崗位,每年造成1700億美元工資損失

    PAIGE MCGLAUFLIN 2022-12-22
    這一數字只是目前報告有“長期新冠”的6.8%的美國成年人的一小部分。

    “長期新冠”已經迫使數百萬人離開工作崗位,每年造成高達數千億美元的工資損失。圖片來源:MOYO STUDIO—GETTY IMAGES

    冬天即將來臨,標志著疫情的又一個轉折點。但就疫苗接種進展而言,也有一線希望。超過80%的美國人口至少接種過一劑疫苗,10%的人接種了二價加強針。但“長期新冠”——一種影響多達80%新冠幸存者的神秘慢性病——仍然是企業的重大關注點,影響著更廣泛的勞動力。

    8月底,布魯金斯研究所(Brookings Institute)發布了一份令人瞠目結舌的報告,發現有200萬至400萬處于工作年齡的美國人受“長期新冠”影響而被迫離開工作崗位,每年至少造成1700億美元的工資損失。(更為保守的估計是,有100萬美國人受“長期新冠”影響而被迫離開工作崗位。)更令人擔憂的是,這一數字只是目前報告有“長期新冠”的6.8%的美國成年人的一小部分。

    該報告的作者凱蒂·巴赫(Katie Bach)表示,至關重要的是,雇主要解決員工的“長期新冠”問題,但她補充說,“目前還不清楚如何幫助罹患‘長期新冠’的員工?!?/p>

    美國公平就業機會委員會(Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)于2021年7月將“長期新冠”列為受《美國殘疾人法案》保護的一種殘疾,要求雇主為罹患“長期新冠”的員工提供合理的工作調適。然而,并非所有的“長期新冠”患者的癥狀看起來都一樣。根據美國疾病控制和預防中心的說法,癥狀可能包括慢性疲勞和體力或腦力勞動后癥狀惡化,呼吸系統問題,如呼吸短促,以及神經系統問題,如腦霧或頭暈。

    今年冬天可能會發生另一波新冠疫情,再加上流感和呼吸道合胞病毒,可能會造成“三重流行病”,迫使更多美國人離開工作崗位。

    Holland & Knight律師事務所合伙人、勞動法律師卡拉?阿里爾(Kara Ariail)表示:“(人力資源主管)不能忽視這一點。雇主有責任為符合條件的殘疾人士提供合理的工作調適,這意味著只要提供合理的工作調適,員工仍然可以完成工作?!?/p>

    管理人員也應該了解“長期新冠”,并接受充分的培訓,以適應員工的預后情況。

    企業社會責任協會(Business for Social Responsibility)人力與文化部門總經理塞西爾?奧格(Cecile Oger)表示,領導者必須表現出同理心和寬容。但她看到一大轉變,領導者不再將新冠肺炎視為一種為期一周的小疾病,而是一種造成患者衰弱,并帶來持久影響的疾病。

    罹患“長期新冠”的患者可以從靈活辦公中受益,諷刺的是,疫情加速了靈活辦公進程。阿里爾說:“靈活性對工作調適大有裨益,無論是日程安排、截止日期上的靈活性,還是提供事先通知?!崩?,經理可以原諒出現睡眠不佳和失眠等癥狀的罹患“長期新冠”的員工在特定時間之前不接電話。同樣地,雇主也可以為那些難以在規定時間內完成工作的出現“腦霧”癥狀的員工提供靈活的截止日期。

    一些公司設立了全公司基金來支付員工的住宿費用。Disability:IN的總裁兼首席執行官吉爾·霍頓(Jill Houghton)說,平均住宿費不超過500美元,“在很多情況下,員工不需要花費任何費用?!盌isability:IN的2022年殘疾平等指數發現,55%的受訪雇主設立了集中住宿基金或類似基金,高于2019年的34%。

    據Disability:IN稱,與沒有改進措施的公司相比,參與殘疾平等指數的公司如果在過去四年里改善了他們的殘疾包容度,那么他們的收入就會增加28%,凈收入翻一番,經濟利潤率提高30%?;纛D說:“公司對殘疾人一視同仁大有裨益。因此,我們不應該爭論員工需要什么樣的條件來履行工作的基本職能?!?/p>

    雇主還必須根據《家庭和醫療休假法》為與“長期新冠”有關的休假申請做好準備。研究表明,越早處理“長期新冠”相關問題,結果就越好。

    阿里爾說:“《家庭和醫療休假法》適用于眾多雇主,因此,雇主需要確保他們在指定假期和通知員工他們的權利方面遵守要求?!?/p>

    受“長期新冠”影響的不僅僅是白領。長期以來,基本醫療衛生保健工作者很容易受到嚴重新冠肺炎疫情的影響,這為他們帶來嚴峻挑戰。

    在美國,雇主可以在與殘疾無關的情況下解雇殘疾工人,如雇員不能滿足工作要求,無論是否有合理的工作調適,或員工因殘疾而對工作場所的健康和安全構成直接威脅。

    一個有記憶問題的工廠工人負責安全監督或操作機器,可能會給雇主帶來職業風險。但鑒于疫情造成的勞動力短缺,雇主必須關注績效問題,并重新考慮他們如何提供工作調適。

    阿里爾說:“確保你經常就績效問題與員工保持聯系。我們不想等到某人錯過了10個截止日期,而這已經成為臨界點,客戶或團隊成員希望他們被解雇?!?/p>

    另外,反復感染會增加出現健康并發癥的可能性,并可能導致更多的員工離開勞動力市場。

    “如果你是雇主,而你的某位員工長期因病缺勤,那樣成本是非常高的?!鳖净肌伴L期新冠”的英國退休職業醫師顧問克萊爾·雷納(Clare Rayner)告訴《財富》雜志?!暗鹿诜窝滓咔榈牟煌幵谟?,很多人同時長期因病缺勤。我以前從未經歷過這樣的情況?!?/p>

    但也有解決辦法。假設一個罹患“長期新冠”的員工很難長時間站立,卻可以坐著工作幾個小時。雇主可以改變員工站立和坐著的時間,給予員工足夠的休息時間,并允許他們改變姿勢?!叭绻阆胱屵@位員工回來工作,你必須讓他們逐漸適應,并做出相應調整?!崩准{說。休病假的員工在缺勤的第12周時返回工作崗位的可能性會下降50%?!澳悴荒艿鹊竭@一可能性變成100%,因為那時他們永遠不會回來了?!?/p>

    盡管“長期新冠”和疫情對勞動力造成了嚴重破壞,但還是有一些好消息。在過去的兩年時間里,由于遠程和混合工作模式,殘疾勞動力參與率有所提高。這樣靈活的工作安排有助于留住罹患“長期新冠”的員工。

    霍頓說:“幾十年來,殘疾人一直在要求靈活的工作場所。雖然這并不適用于每個職位和行業,但我們看到,公司能夠做出改變,開始提供靈活的工作場所。當你談論“長期新冠”或殘疾時,這其實是一回事?!保ㄘ敻恢形木W)

    譯者:中慧言-王芳

    冬天即將來臨,標志著疫情的又一個轉折點。但就疫苗接種進展而言,也有一線希望。超過80%的美國人口至少接種過一劑疫苗,10%的人接種了二價加強針。但“長期新冠”——一種影響多達80%新冠幸存者的神秘慢性病——仍然是企業的重大關注點,影響著更廣泛的勞動力。

    8月底,布魯金斯研究所(Brookings Institute)發布了一份令人瞠目結舌的報告,發現有200萬至400萬處于工作年齡的美國人受“長期新冠”影響而被迫離開工作崗位,每年至少造成1700億美元的工資損失。(更為保守的估計是,有100萬美國人受“長期新冠”影響而被迫離開工作崗位。)更令人擔憂的是,這一數字只是目前報告有“長期新冠”的6.8%的美國成年人的一小部分。

    該報告的作者凱蒂·巴赫(Katie Bach)表示,至關重要的是,雇主要解決員工的“長期新冠”問題,但她補充說,“目前還不清楚如何幫助罹患‘長期新冠’的員工?!?/p>

    美國公平就業機會委員會(Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)于2021年7月將“長期新冠”列為受《美國殘疾人法案》保護的一種殘疾,要求雇主為罹患“長期新冠”的員工提供合理的工作調適。然而,并非所有的“長期新冠”患者的癥狀看起來都一樣。根據美國疾病控制和預防中心的說法,癥狀可能包括慢性疲勞和體力或腦力勞動后癥狀惡化,呼吸系統問題,如呼吸短促,以及神經系統問題,如腦霧或頭暈。

    今年冬天可能會發生另一波新冠疫情,再加上流感和呼吸道合胞病毒,可能會造成“三重流行病”,迫使更多美國人離開工作崗位。

    Holland & Knight律師事務所合伙人、勞動法律師卡拉?阿里爾(Kara Ariail)表示:“(人力資源主管)不能忽視這一點。雇主有責任為符合條件的殘疾人士提供合理的工作調適,這意味著只要提供合理的工作調適,員工仍然可以完成工作?!?/p>

    管理人員也應該了解“長期新冠”,并接受充分的培訓,以適應員工的預后情況。

    企業社會責任協會(Business for Social Responsibility)人力與文化部門總經理塞西爾?奧格(Cecile Oger)表示,領導者必須表現出同理心和寬容。但她看到一大轉變,領導者不再將新冠肺炎視為一種為期一周的小疾病,而是一種造成患者衰弱,并帶來持久影響的疾病。

    罹患“長期新冠”的患者可以從靈活辦公中受益,諷刺的是,疫情加速了靈活辦公進程。阿里爾說:“靈活性對工作調適大有裨益,無論是日程安排、截止日期上的靈活性,還是提供事先通知?!崩?,經理可以原諒出現睡眠不佳和失眠等癥狀的罹患“長期新冠”的員工在特定時間之前不接電話。同樣地,雇主也可以為那些難以在規定時間內完成工作的出現“腦霧”癥狀的員工提供靈活的截止日期。

    一些公司設立了全公司基金來支付員工的住宿費用。Disability:IN的總裁兼首席執行官吉爾·霍頓(Jill Houghton)說,平均住宿費不超過500美元,“在很多情況下,員工不需要花費任何費用?!盌isability:IN的2022年殘疾平等指數發現,55%的受訪雇主設立了集中住宿基金或類似基金,高于2019年的34%。

    據Disability:IN稱,與沒有改進措施的公司相比,參與殘疾平等指數的公司如果在過去四年里改善了他們的殘疾包容度,那么他們的收入就會增加28%,凈收入翻一番,經濟利潤率提高30%?;纛D說:“公司對殘疾人一視同仁大有裨益。因此,我們不應該爭論員工需要什么樣的條件來履行工作的基本職能?!?/p>

    雇主還必須根據《家庭和醫療休假法》為與“長期新冠”有關的休假申請做好準備。研究表明,越早處理“長期新冠”相關問題,結果就越好。

    阿里爾說:“《家庭和醫療休假法》適用于眾多雇主,因此,雇主需要確保他們在指定假期和通知員工他們的權利方面遵守要求?!?/p>

    受“長期新冠”影響的不僅僅是白領。長期以來,基本醫療衛生保健工作者很容易受到嚴重新冠肺炎疫情的影響,這為他們帶來嚴峻挑戰。

    在美國,雇主可以在與殘疾無關的情況下解雇殘疾工人,如雇員不能滿足工作要求,無論是否有合理的工作調適,或員工因殘疾而對工作場所的健康和安全構成直接威脅。

    一個有記憶問題的工廠工人負責安全監督或操作機器,可能會給雇主帶來職業風險。但鑒于疫情造成的勞動力短缺,雇主必須關注績效問題,并重新考慮他們如何提供工作調適。

    阿里爾說:“確保你經常就績效問題與員工保持聯系。我們不想等到某人錯過了10個截止日期,而這已經成為臨界點,客戶或團隊成員希望他們被解雇?!?/p>

    另外,反復感染會增加出現健康并發癥的可能性,并可能導致更多的員工離開勞動力市場。

    “如果你是雇主,而你的某位員工長期因病缺勤,那樣成本是非常高的?!鳖净肌伴L期新冠”的英國退休職業醫師顧問克萊爾·雷納(Clare Rayner)告訴《財富》雜志?!暗鹿诜窝滓咔榈牟煌幵谟?,很多人同時長期因病缺勤。我以前從未經歷過這樣的情況?!?/p>

    但也有解決辦法。假設一個罹患“長期新冠”的員工很難長時間站立,卻可以坐著工作幾個小時。雇主可以改變員工站立和坐著的時間,給予員工足夠的休息時間,并允許他們改變姿勢?!叭绻阆胱屵@位員工回來工作,你必須讓他們逐漸適應,并做出相應調整?!崩准{說。休病假的員工在缺勤的第12周時返回工作崗位的可能性會下降50%?!澳悴荒艿鹊竭@一可能性變成100%,因為那時他們永遠不會回來了?!?/p>

    盡管“長期新冠”和疫情對勞動力造成了嚴重破壞,但還是有一些好消息。在過去的兩年時間里,由于遠程和混合工作模式,殘疾勞動力參與率有所提高。這樣靈活的工作安排有助于留住罹患“長期新冠”的員工。

    霍頓說:“幾十年來,殘疾人一直在要求靈活的工作場所。雖然這并不適用于每個職位和行業,但我們看到,公司能夠做出改變,開始提供靈活的工作場所。當你談論“長期新冠”或殘疾時,這其實是一回事?!保ㄘ敻恢形木W)

    譯者:中慧言-王芳

    Winter is quickly approaching, marking yet another turn around the sun for the COVID-19 pandemic. But there is a silver lining when it comes to inoculation progress. More than 80% of the U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose, and 10% have received a bivalent booster. But long COVID—a mysterious chronic condition affecting as many as 80% of COVID survivors—remains a significant business concern with broader workforce implications.

    In late August, the Brookings Institute released a jaw-dropping report finding that long COVID has forced between 2 million to 4 million working-age Americans out of the workforce, accounting for at least $170 billion in lost wages annually. (More conservative estimates place the number of Americans out of work due to long COVID at 1 million.) Even more worrying, this number is only a fraction of the 6.8% of U.S. adults who currently report having long COVID symptoms.

    Katie Bach, the report’s author, says it’s critical that employers address long COVID in their workforce, but adds, “It’s not immediately obvious how to accommodate someone with this.”

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission classified long COVID as a disability protected under the American With Disabilities Act in July 2021, requiring that employers provide long-haulers with reasonable accommodations. However, not all long COVID cases look the same. According to the CDC, symptoms can include chronic fatigue and worsening symptoms after physical or mental effort, respiratory issues like shortness of breath, and neurological issues like brain fog or dizziness.

    Another COVID wave will likely happen this winter, which combined with the flu and RSV could create a “tripledemic” and push even more Americans out of the workforce.

    “It’s not something [HR leaders] can just ignore,” says Kara Ariail, a partner and employment law attorney at Holland & Knight. “Employers have a responsibility to make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities, which means that an employee can still perform the job as long as some accommodations are in place.”

    It will also require that managers are aware of long COVID symptoms and have adequate training to accommodate employees’prognoses.

    Cecile Oger, managing director of people and culture at Business for Social Responsibility, says leaders must show empathy and leniency. But she’s seeing a shift from leaders treating COVID as a one-week ailment to a disease with a lasting, debilitating impact.

    Long COVID patients could stand to benefit from flexible work, which the pandemic ironically accelerated. “Flexibility is a key accommodation that helps, whether it’s flexibility in schedule, deadlines, or providing a lot of advance notice,” says Ariail. For instance, a manager can excuse an employee whose long COVID symptoms include poor sleep and insomnia from taking calls before a certain time. Similarly, employers can provide deadline flexibility to workers with brain fog who find it difficult to work within time limits.

    Some companies have set up enterprise-wide funds to pay for employee accommodations. The average accommodation costs no more than $500, says Jill Houghton, president and CEO of Disability:IN, noting, “In many instances, it doesn’t cost anything.” Disability:IN’s 2022 Disability Equality Index found that 55% of surveyed employers have a centralized accommodation fund or similar fund, up from 34% in 2019.

    Companies participating in the Disability Equality Index that improved their disability inclusion over four years saw 28% higher revenue, doubled net income, and 30% higher economic profit margins compared to companies that hadn’t improved their practices, according to Disability:IN. “It pays for companies to be disability-inclusive,” Houghton says. “So we shouldn’t be debating what an employee needs to perform the job’s essential functions.”

    Employers must also prepare for long-COVID-related leave requests under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Research shows that the sooner long COVID is addressed, the better the outcome.

    “Employers who are covered under the FMLA need to make sure that they are following the requirements in terms of designating leave and informing employees of their rights,” Ariail says.

    Long COVID’s impact goes beyond white-collar workers. Essential and health care workers have long been vulnerable to worse COVID-19 outcomes, painting a grimmer picture for such individuals.

    In the U.S., employers can terminate workers with disabilities if the termination is unrelated to the disability, employees do not meet the job requirements with or without reasonable accommodation, or workers pose a direct threat to health and safety in the workplace because of their disability.

    A factory worker with memory issues responsible for safety oversight or running a machine could create an occupational risk for employers. But given the labor shortage caused by the pandemic, employers must stay on top of performance issues and rethink how they’re granting accommodations.

    “Make sure you are in constant, regular contact with employees on performance issues,” says Ariail. “We don’t want to wait until someone has missed 10 deadlines, and it’s become a critical point, and a client or a team member wants them removed.”

    Separately, repeated reinfections increase the likelihood of developing health complications and could lead more employees to exit the workforce.

    “If you’re an employer, and you have somebody on long-term sickness absence, that’s very costly,” Clare Rayner, a retired consultant occupational physician in England who developed long COVID, tells Fortune. “But what’s different with COVID is that we’ve got multiple people off sick for a long time, all at once. That’s never happened in my experience.”

    But there are solutions. Suppose a long-hauler struggles to stand upright for long periods but works on their feet for hours. Employers can vary the worker’s time standing and sitting and allow adequate breaks and changes in position. ”If you want to get this person back in, you’ve got to ease them in gradually and make adjustments,” Rayner says. The likelihood of a worker on medical leave returning to work drops by 50% by their 12th week of absence. “You can’t leave it until someone’s 100% because they’ll never get back in.”

    Despite the havoc long COVID and the pandemic wreaked on the workforce, there’s some good news: Workforce disability participation increased in the last two years thanks to remote and hybrid work offerings. Those same flexible arrangements can help retain long haulers.

    “People with disabilities [have] been asking for flexible workplaces for decades,” says Houghton. “While it didn’t work for every single position and industry, we saw that companies were able to flip that switch and begin to offer these flexible workplace accommodations, which, when you’re talking about long COVID or disability, is one and the same.”

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