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What to Do If You Can’t Work During Coronavirus: Where to Look

can't work during coronavirus


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As officials try to limit the spread of coronavirus, working from home is becoming more common (even if it isn’t by choice). However, not all employers can offer a work-from-home option. Many jobs require an in-person presence every day.

While there are “obvious” industries that are taking a hard hit from coronavirus, there are lesser known industries that are also getting affected, causing slowdowns and complications for workers.

Fortunately, there are some flexible and temporary remote work options that can help workers in industries impacted by coronavirus earn an income.

Which Industries are Affected and How

While the airline industry is taking a huge hit right now (bookings on the major U.S. carriers is down across the board), there are “adjacent” industries that are also feeling the fallout.

Because fewer people are traveling, fewer people are attending conferences and events. As a result, major gatherings (South by Southwest, and, ironically, a conference on coronavirus) are canceled. And while the immediate fallout is apparent (i.e., canceled hotel rooms), the ripple effect has a far reach.

For example, when events are canceled, the service staff and event planners that were scheduled to work those events can no longer count on that income. A canceled event means not only canceled hotel reservations, it also means fewer room service staff, and fewer service industry employees to work the events, or be present at nearby restaurants.

The hit to the travel industry has also meant a drop in Airbnb bookings. As one example, one Airbnb host found their bookings decrease to zero — down from 80% since January. And there is also less need for tour guides, security guards, and even locker attendants as tourist attractions close.

Other industries are feeling the impact, too, forced to layoff workers as there is no work to do. Retail employees are finding they have fewer shifts to work because people are only shopping for the necessities. And truck drivers are being affected as supply chain interruptions have resulted in no goods arriving in ports for shipping.

How Employees Are Affected

The CDC advises that employers encourage staff to stay home to help limit exposure and the spread of coronavirus. For some, that means working from home. But, in some industries, that means using up sick or vacation time to make up for the lost wages.

However, not every employee is eligible for paid time off, and not every company offers paid time off period. Though some companies have heeded the call to provide paid leave to workers who can’t work-from-home or need to take time off due to coronavirus (Walmart, Uber, Lyft, Starbucks, and Instacart, for example), these policy tweaks may not be enough.

Paid Time Off Is Not Federally Mandatory

The Department of Labor (DOL) states that no employer is required to offer paid vacation to any staff member. And, if an employee takes time off without using any accrued paid leave, the employer can legally dock that person’s pay.

That said, staff that can work-from-home can work and be paid, even when they are an hourly employee. However, the same is not true for hourly employees that must do their job in-person. The DOL also states that employers only have to pay hourly staff for the hours they’ve worked. If the business is shut down for any reason, and the hourly employee can’t work, they do not get paid for those missed hours.

Not All Employers Can Afford Paid Leave

While paid leave may not be federally mandated, some states require employers to offer it. Currently, 12 states and the District of Columbia require employers to give employees some form of paid sick leave. The requirements vary by state (and some state laws don’t kick in until 2021), but it still may not be enough.

For example, in Michigan, the benefit does not apply to private employers with less than 50 employees. And employees only earn one hour of sick leave for every 35 hours that they work, to a maximum of 40 paid sick hours per year.

Small companies may have a hard time offering sick leave and staying in business during the outbreak. For example, in Oregon, employers must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave. But in a small company, if more than a few people are out sick at the same time, not only would the company have to pay the sick time, they might have to shut down due to a lack of staff. That would mean lost income for the business and possibly, shutting down permanently.

Freelancing Could Be a Lifeline

Whether your hours are cut, or you’ve been laid off, the fact is you need to make-up that income. And if you can’t collect unemployment, you may need to turn to freelance, temporary and flexible work. Fortunately, we’ve got lots of freelance opportunities that also let you work-from-home.

If you don’t think you’ve got the right skills or education for these jobs, think again. You might have some fantastic transferable skills that will make you the right fit for many of these jobs. And some of these opportunities don’t require a college degree.

Here Are Jobs that Offer Flexible and Remote Freelance Jobs

Data Entry

If you’re fast and accurate on a keyboard, data entry is another flexible job you can do remotely. All you need is a computer and internet connection, and you’re good to go. While the work may not be the flashiest, it is a job that almost always lets you set your own hours.

Recent internet data entry positions posted on FlexJobs:

  • Administrative Clerk
  • Program Assistant
  • Accounting Clerk

Companies that hire for freelance data entry jobs:

Customer Service

With everyone staying home, there are probably lots of questions to answer. Technical questions, order tracking, delivery questions — you name it, there’s a question. In many cases, working in customer support only requires a decent internet connection, letting you help out from the comfort of your home.

Recent customer support positions posted on FlexJobs:

  • Customer Support, Tech Support
  • Customer Support Agent
  • Customer Support Manager

Companies that hire for freelance customer service jobs:

Administrative

People in the administrative field provide supportive functions to either an individual (like a CEO) or the entire company. This flexible field often hires part-time employees, making it easy for you to work the hours that are most convenient for you.

Recent administrative positions posted on FlexJobs:

  • Commercial Title Assistant
  • Patient Appointment Services Specialist
  • Administrative Clerk

Companies that hire for freelance customer service jobs:

Education and Training

Believe it or not, this growing field does not only hire teachers. For example, VIPKID, an online English tutoring company, will accept candidates with a bachelor’s degree in any field. You can work from wherever you want and whenever you want.

Recent education and training positions posted on FlexJobs:

  • Online ESL Teacher
  • Instructional Designer
  • Virtual Learning Coach

Companies that hire for freelance education and training jobs

Writing

Everyone has a story to tell, but sometimes, they need a little help telling it. That’s where a writer comes in. If you love telling stories or enjoy helping brands get their message out, writing can be a fantastic freelance job. You can do it from anywhere whenever you’ve got the time.

Recent writing positions posted on FlexJobs:

  • Technical Editor
  • Content Writer
  • Copywriter

Companies that hire for freelance writing jobs:

Freelance Work Can Help

Freelancing can help you earn an income when other options are scarce. Consider this an opportunity to test out freelance work and see if it’s something you might want to pursue.

Be sure to read up on what it takes to be a successful freelancer, how to land a freelance gig when you don’t have any experience, and how to find more freelance gigs. And consider signing up for our newsletter for more tips. Once a week, you’ll get blog posts, special offers, and featured jobs delivered right to your inbox.

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