Survey: Many Pennsylvania workers support COVID-19 employer liability

Stacy Wescoe//September 10, 2020

Survey: Many Pennsylvania workers support COVID-19 employer liability

Stacy Wescoe//September 10, 2020

Many business organizations in the state have been lobbying for protections against COVID-19 related lawsuits.

But a recent survey shows many employees think businesses should be liable, especially in Pennsylvania.

The law firm of Jacoby and Meyers recently conducted a national survey of 5,650 workers which showed that 38% of those surveyed believe employers should be liable to pay compensation should an employee contract Covid-19 in the workplace.

In Pennsylvania the number is nearly half.  A total of 47% of those surveyed in Pa. felt employers should be liable.

Broken down across the country, it was found that West Virginians felt most strongly about protecting employees’ rights, with 75% saying businesses should not be protected from legal blame if workers contract Coronavirus.

South Dakotans felt most strongly about protecting businesses during this time, with only 11% agreeing that employers should be held liable.

Pennsylvania trade groups have argued that businesses could do “everything right” and still have an employee or customer contract the virus. It also noted that it is difficult to tell exactly where the virus was transmitted and that fighting even an “unfounded” lawsuit could break a business already struggling because of the pandemic and have been calling for “Safe Harbor” protections.

Congress is currently debating legislation that would provide such protections.

On other COVID-19 related employment matters, the Jacoby and Meyers survey found support for certain preventative measures in the workplace.

The law firm noted that one method many companies will adopt as they re-open their workspaces is to take everyone’s temperature regularly.

According to the survey, employees feel reassured that temperature checks are a positive way of protecting their health and 76% of those surveyed believe they should be compulsory each time an individual enters a place of work.

If a person’s temperature is over a certain degree, that person should be instructed to go home and seek medical advice.

However, the law firm said there are also ongoing debates on the issue of privacy regarding personal data involved in temperature checks.

The survey found 74% of employees believed their personal data obtained via temperature checks should be kept confidential.

Re-introducing workers back into the workplace has not only brought up issues related to health and privacy, but also compensation.

For example, if COVID-19 testing or temperature checks take place outside of official work hours, should workers be compensated for their time?

The survey found that 58% of employees feel they should be compensated, for example for testing before work, during lunch or after hours.