Employment versus COVID-19
Employment seems like a far-reaching goal during this time of uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. However, large corporations across the state have an immediate need to increase their workforce to meet the demand for products sold in their stores.
According to USA Today, clothing retailers including JCPenny, Kohl’s and Victoria’s Secret, all of which have multiple locations across Arkansas, have joined other companies in furloughing employees. By mid-March, unemployment claims were more than 3.3 million nationwide.
Gas stations, healthcare companies and grocers appear to be the highest in demand of services as well as demand for more employees. In Arkansas, these companies are seeking employees and even offering bonuses to existing employees.
Hiring Companies: Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Dollar General, Albertsons Companies, Dollar Tree, Kroger, Lowes, Target, Amazon, Pizza Hut, Domino’s and more. Walmart is offering bonuses between $150 to $300 for current part-time and full-time employees. Employees at CVS could receive a bonus up to $500. (Read more on hiring companies). Many of these companies practice inclusive hiring and are making diversity and inclusion a top priority in their workforce. This means there may be increased opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.
Though there are several new incentives companies are offering to attract new employees, there may be some uncertainty on the safety of working in these high traffic areas. Several companies are adopting new safety protocols to encourage social distancing in their stores not only for the safety of their customers, but also for employees. Safety measures in stores may include more cleaning, special shopping hours reserved for those at a higher risk of getting COVID-19, extra hand sanitizer stations for customers and employees, extra handwashing breaks, signage designating 6-foot distances for customers, and other preventive measures. Employees are also being allowed to wear masks and gloves to further protect their own health.
As for those who have become unemployed or furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is expediting unemployment benefits by waiving the one-week waiting period that is required under Arkansas law. To learn more about changes to unemployment and how to apply for benefits, go to the Department of Workforce Services.