While the United States battles a growing upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases, employees in the hospitality industry continue to put themselves in harm’s way for their guests and their employers. Each day they work tirelessly to ensure that hotels and restaurants meet or exceed increasingly stringent COVID-related safety and cleanliness regulations, carrying the weight of both the legal obligations placed on the hospitality business and the concerns and expectations of visitors. With their lives now on the line, hospitality employees face a new challenge—finding affordable healthcare.
There’s no doubt this pandemic has caused all of us to recognize that providing cost-efficient health care to these essential workers and their families, whether permanent, part-time or low wage, is critical for our well-being and presents a challenge that must be faced with urgency.
Today’s Health Care for Hospitality Employees
Every aspect of our lives has been affected by COVID-19, from our work routines to the way we choose to live our personal lives. Not least of these is the matter of our health and health care. Many businesses within the hospitality industry have long relied on traditional approaches to their health-care offerings, but now that simply isn’t enough.
Companies can offer major medical insurance for full-time staff and managers, but what about the those who work part-time or are low-wage earners? Too many part-time and low-wage employees do not have access to health care, and in turn, medical assistance due to pricing and policies. Unfortunately, even when these employees qualify and are offered medical plans, more often than not, the costs are too high for the employer and employee to bear.
Workers should never be put in a position where they need to choose between putting food on the table and having access to health care—especially as they put their lives on the line to ensure that those who need to travel or quarantine out-of-state are in the cleanest, safest environments.
Hospitality-focused businesses like hotels should consider alternative programs that will provide greater access to care for all employees.
The Future of Health Care in a COVID-19 World
Making genuinely affordable health care available to hospitality workers demands a fundamental change to U.S. health care. Health care should not be a question, and the health and well-being of all employees shouldn’t be a burden to any company with workers in high-risk roles.
When thinking about the future of health care, hospitality companies and business owners need to consider a new health care plan that can enable employers to provide low-wage and part-time employees Affordable Care Act-compliant health care at no cost—and create a sense of relief for the employees and their families.
While the pandemic continues to impact all aspects of the hospitality industry, one thing is for certain: The health and wellness of employees should be a priority and all employees should have access to health care. Hospitality companies are already playing a pivotal role in keeping others healthy by providing clean spaces for those needing a safe place to stay when traveling or quarantining out-of-state. Now, there’s an opportunity for business owners to repay these efforts by leading the change for in a new approach for health care. A change that could have a positive lasting effect for all.
John Zabasky is co-founder and CEO of WorXsiteHR