U.S. Chamber of Commerce Calls for Uniform Approach to Identify Essential Workers and Functions

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 - 12:00pm

Chamber releases two resources to help businesses and workers navigate challenges

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today called for renewed focus on a uniform approach to identifying essential workers and functions as a patchwork of guidance has emerged domestically and internationally amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus is a global threat, and the lack of clarity on essential workers and functions at both the state level and across the globe is impeding efforts to respond to this crisis. 

To help highlight these issues and provide resources to help businesses and workers, the Chamber has released two resources to navigate these challenges.

The first resource is a tool that tracks individual state ‘stay at home’ guidance and maps it to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security guidance by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The Essential Workforce Tracker aims to help businesses understand the various orders that have been issued, as it impacts the critical infrastructure and critical functions that the workforce uses.

“As more states issue their own ‘stay at home’ guidance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of clarity around what constitutes ‘critical’ and ‘essential’ business and workers and the lack of uniformity in guidance hurts efforts to respond quickly,” said Christopher Roberti, Senior Vice President for Cyber, Intelligence, and Supply Chain Security Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “There is an urgent need for a uniform approach to identifying which workers and functions are deemed essential, and we urge states to follow a uniform model and provide guidance to state and local law enforcement, employers, and employees.”

The U.S. Chamber also recognizes that the coronavirus is a global challenge that requires global engagement and solutions. Working closely with partners in the public and private sectors across the globe, the U.S. Chamber developed a set of “International Principles for Safeguarding Essential Economic Functions in the COVID-19 Pandemic,” to provide a more consistent approach to identifying essential economic functions.

“A single country acting alone cannot hope to defeat this threat to public health and global economic stability. Governments and companies should acknowledge the inevitable tension between social distancing and the need to allow for essential economic activity to continue,” said John Murphy, Senior Vice President of International Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “These principles are intended to help guide decision makers as they seek to protect public health while maintaining core economic functions.”