Employer Response to COVID-19

Morgan O'Rourke


May 1, 2020

More than 70% of U.S. companies surveyed by law firm Blank Rome’s COVID-19 Task Force did not have a pre-existing pandemic risk management plan in place when the virus hit. Conducted from March 19 to 23, the COVID-19 Employer Trends Survey provided a snapshot of organizational response at the time. For example, 63% of companies had prohibited international travel and 38% had barred domestic travel. The remaining companies required employees to obtain pre-approval for travel, told them to follow State Department travel advisories, or discouraged travel without issuing restrictions. In addition, even though the pandemic had already forced the closure of many international businesses, 17% of companies still had not made any changes to their international travel policy and 9% had not changed their domestic travel policies.

More than half of those surveyed moved to full remote work and 37% had instituted partial remote work, while others addressed social distancing by creating rotating office shifts and physically moving workstations farther apart. Despite the stress caused by the pandemic, only 12% of companies reported any employee complaints related to COVID-19. Complaints that did occur centered around the timing of office closures and the lack of consistent policies.

Morgan O’Rourke is editor in chief of Risk Management and director of publications for the Risk & Insurance Management Society, Inc. (RIMS)