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Impacts of COVID-19 on Labour

The costs of the pandemic disproportionately fall on labour.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have severely affected the labour market. In India, the pandemic and the prolonged lockdowns have led to a reduction or complete loss of their livelihoods, which has disproportionately affected the migrants and the working poor. Others, such as health workers and those in essential services, have experienced a huge increase in workloads and schedules amidst the onslaught of the pandemic. In the services sectors, the pandemic not only led to lay-offs and retrenchments but has also been a catalyst for the transformation of the workplace. Most technically qualified employees, especially in the services sectors, have been able to continue their work from home through remote working arrangements. This has often caused shifts in their work–life balance, which in turn has created uncertain net effects on productivity. Most employees have been forced into working remotely, often under stressful situations due to the pandemic, which could erode motivation as well as focus. Most often, longer working hours have not been compensated at wages prevalent before the onset of the pandemic.

The pandemic has, thus, directly disrupted the lives of millions of workers in countries across the world by causing lay-offs, reduction in working hours and wages. Emphasising on the catastrophic effects of the pandemic on working hours and employment globally, an International Labour Organization (ILO) report states that it is expected to erode 6.7% of working hours in the second quarter of 2020, which is equivalent to that of 195 million full-time workers. The scale of reductions leading to large-scale unemployment globally was expected to vary with higher percentages accounted by the Arab nations, Europe, Asia and the Pacific regions, while the sectors most at risk comprised accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, and business and administrative activities.

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Updated On : 29th Jul, 2020


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