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New York Cleaning Staff Urged To Use Paid Leave If Exposed To Coronavirus

USA Cleaning Staff Urged To Use Paid Leave If Exposed To Coronavirus
02 April 2020

According to an internal document leaked to The Guardian newspaper, cleaning staff at WeWork offices in New York are being asked to use annual or sick leave if they are exposed to COVID-19.

Businesses in New York have been urged to shut, excluding essential services, but it seems that WeWork have remained open. 


Workers cleaning "already clean, empty buildings"


The anonymous employee who spoke to The Guardian said:

“If WeWork closes their offices they default on contracts signed by their members, thus losing tons of money. So they are keeping them open so as not to lose out. In turn, JLL are supplying workers to clean already clean, empty buildings,” said the cleaner. They want us to put our lives at risk in order to maintain the cleaning contracts they have with WeWork.”

They also added that contracted cleaning staff are not receiving any bonuses or compensation for working through the pandemic.

The New York Times reported that some WeWork employees were being offered $100-a-day bonuses to go to its locations amid the Coronavirus crisis.


JLL statement


ThisWeekinFM reached out to JLL’s UK press team for further comment, but they directed us to their original statement, which reads:

“The management of health and operations at our managed facilities is our top priority. Some of the steps we are taking include communicating with local authorities to be aware of impacts in each market, increasing the sanitation of common areas and surface spaces, and communicating with clients regarding proactively addressing workforces that support them as needed.

“We encourage employees to follow preventive personal hygiene practices recommended by health organizations and to stay home and contact health professionals if they feel symptomatic or have come into contact with someone who has contracted the virus.”


UK & USA annual leave rules


Unlike the UK, there are currently no state-backed furlough options for companies. According to Forbes, many states are without specific laws regarding employee rights during quarantine.

Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor,  has called for a paid sick leave bill.

Employers are also not duty-bound to even provide paid annual leave. Thanks to the Fair Labor Standards Act, decisions about payment for vacation, sick leave and federal holidays are up for negotiation between employer and employee.

According to a study from the US-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, nearly one in four American private-sector workers doesn’t receive any paid vacation time.

Due to a recent change in WeWork’s cleaning contract, most workers have just three of four days of paid vacation accrued, since the contract began only four months ago. WeWork began outsourcing its facilities staff to real estate services company JLL in December 2019.

Picture: Cleaning staff at WeWork offices in New York are being asked to use paid time off or sick leave if they are exposed to COVID-19.

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 02 April 2020


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