The Role of Business in Mitigating the Social Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Workers and Families

The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused unprecedented consequences across the globe, affecting everyone from business owners and policymakers to low-income workers and their families. The pandemic has wrought havoc on the economy, disrupting supply chains, closing or reducing the hours of commercial enterprises and putting livelihoods at risk. Businesses must do their part to mitigate the resulting social devastation that is affecting workers, their families and the wider community.

For many workers, a decrease in income or loss of a job altogether is causing poverty to soar. Everyone must find a way to survive and adapt. Women are particularly affected by the scarcity of jobs and cuts in hours. Women are over-represented in lower-skill jobs, such as domestic workers and caregivers, which also are the types of labour that have been first to be cut during the pandemic.

For example, before the pandemic hit, women in the Asia-Pacific region already were responsible for four times more unpaid caregiving work than men. As businesses lay off many of these women, they must shoulder the burden of childminding alone. Often the women would be left to tend to their children who are no longer at school. Furthermore, as more women become redundant to stay at home, they are more at risk of domestic violence during their confinement at home, which has and will have major effects on the mental health and physical health of the women that are waiting to return to work.

For those poorer families in lower developed countries, the challenges are much more detrimental.  Due to the major disruptions to education systems across the globe children are unable to attend schools due to school closures. Thus, as more children are left to stay at home many women struggle to maintain an income, educate and feed their children. To make matters worse, in the case of migrant workers who are stuck abroad are separated from their families, with their children now at home there is an even bigger burden to return to tend to their children’s care.

As many children attending school had been provided with school lunches and hygiene care, many lower-income families across the globe are left wondering how to afford feeding their children, whilst paying rent and bills which is made worse when many of these low-income workers have been made redundant. 

As many children attending school had been provided with school lunches and hygiene care, many lower-income families across the globe are left wondering how to afford feeding their children, whilst paying rent and bills which is made worse when many of these low-income workers have been made redundant. Children are as a result unable to be fed adequality thus affecting their health and immunity making them more prone to deadly diseases and poor mental health. The mental health of the children can further be damaged as for many kids attending school means that they can escape possible abuse they would be receiving at home, whether that be abuse from parents or far family members. With the closure of school’s children’s health and safety are majorly at risk of physical and mental domestic abuse.

The inequality towards access to education has become increasingly clear across low-income families. Many schools have moved their education to online classes, yet what guarantees that children will have access to working internet and devices such as laptops to continue their schooling from home? Not everyone has access to these technological products, for many, it is an expensive addition good that families cannot afford. Thus, repeatedly it is the poor kids that are being neglected and left behind. This, in the long run, will create a generation of distressed children and students, many of which will not be able to return to school as they have missed out on several months’ worth of learning, and cannot afford to repeat the months of online education they have missed out.

These societal issues that have emerged as a result of COVID-19 further signify the role businesses should play in helping mitigate the social impact that the pandemic is playing on families and children’s rights and way of life. Businesses should monitor and recognise the importance of helping their workers receive the mental and physiological help they may need as a result of stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19, whether that being the loss of a family member, the risk of possible infection or job uncertain. It is a key factor that businesses try to provide their employees with job security to allow them to tend to their daily lives comfortably.

Businesses should be on regular contact with their local staff and local community in order to create a space in which grievances and issues can be discussed and solved. This way workers and the community will not feel neglected by their employers, which in turn will reduce job related anxiety that may have been burdening them. Additional to this, business should consider family and social situation of their workers to provide them with flexible working hours that may assist them to tend to their outside of work responsibilities such as taking care of their children at home.

 It is not enough for the government to adhere to their responsibilities in looking after its citizens, businesses must take their responsibilities amongst the community. Businesses must emerge with protection methods and a wide range of support platforms to socially protect workers who are burdened with heavy family responsibilities such as childbearing and at-home education. Businesses and the government should work together in moderating the social harm COVID-19 has caused to provide with a solution and protection policies in less time.  

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