Public Assets Institute > Policy Areas > Family Economic Security > Worker protections are strained by the COVID-19 crisis

Worker protections are strained by the COVID-19 crisis

Necessary public health measures could overwhelm Vermont’s unemployment fund. The governor’s order to shutter schools, child care services, bars, and restaurants affects about 40,000 workers. Closing most retail outlets and arts and recreation venues, as some have done and experts recommend, would idle 30,000. Some employers will keep paying workers. But Vermont’s unemployment insurance fund held $500 million in January. During the Great Recession, when monthly unemployment reached 25,000, Vermont depleted its $121 million fund in one year. 





Out sick
Paid sick leave can mitigate both the health and economic risks of the coronavirus, and Vermont is one of 12 states that require employers to offer it. But not all Vermont workers are covered. Mandatory paid leave does not apply to those working fewer than 18 hours a week on average, seasonal employees working fewer than 20 weeks a year, the self-employed, and other temporary workers without regular schedules or with per-diem compensation. 



Only 3 percent of Vermonters are without health insurance, a fact Vermont can be proud of. But to save lives and protect the public health during the COVID-19 crisis, everyone must be covered adequately. In addition to the 20,000 uninsured Vermonters, over 182,000 are underinsured, according to a 2018 survey by the Vermont Department of Health. That’s over a third of Vermonters under age 65 who cannot afford either their deductibles or their current health care expenses and who could face large bills if they require intensive or extended medical treatment.

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