The Effect of Covid-19 On Sustainable Employment and Decent Work For All

With the dawn of a contemporary era beginning with a virulent pandemic, the daily work wage for the masses has gone down the rabbit hole. These past two years (later half of 2019-present day 2022), the COVID 19 virus has taken a brutal turn to become one of the deadliest pandemics to have hit humanity.


The pandemic has become a high alert crisis, affecting all the communities and industries worldwide. Needless to say, there has been a sharp increase in unemployment across all borders. Despite several pragmatic approaches, the governments across the nations cannot recover the losses faced by the residents; hence, the decisions to curb expenditure of national wealth have been taken following the current scenario. In such unprecedented times, where the health sector of all nations is crashing at a shocking rate, unemployment among the masses is acting as the fuel to the already widespread fire of agony and loss that comes accompanying the virus.


Work-life balance has always been the motive of every individual belonging to a middle-class family. The monetary support and peer recognition while carrying out duties at their workplaces have coherently played a considerable role in the life of an average human being. But with a pandemic at hand, an appalling number of sickness and death cases everywhere has hit the world economy hard.


The economies of all the nations are crashing, but the biggest sufferers are the developing and poor countries which seem to be going through tenacious times. Developing countries like India, Mexico, Indonesia, and Brazil, with enormous populations consisting mainly of the workforce, are striving to recover from the economy's slowdown and its effect on the diverse sectors, which have resulted in mass unemployment on a large scale


According to the ILO, the pandemic is expected to devastate global employment, with up to 400 million full-time jobs lost and another 340 million at risk of being lost by the end of 2020. From the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) perspective, the global pandemic presents tremendous challenges for achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all."[1]


Due to a shortage of funds or business apprehensions, companies have started mass firing employees at various levels of their organizations. It severely affected the displaced employees whose entire livelihood crashed within seconds. In countries with pre-existing complications like exploitation of workers, gender wage gaps, and unemployment due to disabilities, the lockdown has worsened the hope for a holistic employment plan. According to the UN Special Rapporteur


Due to a shortage of funds or business apprehensions, companies have started mass firing employees at various levels of their organizations. It severely affected the displaced employees whose entire livelihood crashed within seconds. In countries with pre-existing complications like exploitation of workers, gender wage gaps, and unemployment due to disabilities, the lockdown has worsened the hope for a holistic employment plan. According to the UN Special Rapporteur.


On Contemporary Forms of Slavery, "the severe socio-economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to increase the scourge of modern-day slavery, already impacting over 40 million people before the global pandemic", as well as children who now are at "even higher risk of exposure to the worst forms of child labour."


The educated workforce has a higher chance of securing a job in these tumultuous times than the uneducated lower strata of the society consisting of seasonal workers, migrant workers, on-contract workers, and laborers without certified skills or avid qualifications and lack of information. In extreme situations, to sustain themselves, a family is forced to depend on illegal ways of grasping employment opportunities that eventually pave the way to endless strenuous work periods and exploitations by the hiring firms. Among the BPL workers, we see high cases of contracting the deadly virus due to the absence of proper precautions like foolproof masks, gloves, shields, etc. Especially the pregnant women who are compelled to work in potentially unsafe workplaces end up putting themselves at high risk.


Even in the corporate sector with no job security, redundancy is substantially increasing. Often, we come across fresh graduates from renowned universities, but even with a high skill set, they fail to secure a job matching their profile. Thanks to online platforms like Linkedin, with the help of connections and a vast network, there have been considerable job opportunities. On a similar scale, there has been an increase in online small businesses during the pandemic on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, etc.


However, every coin has two sides; where on the one hand, online platforms assist employers in meeting potential employees. On the other hand, it hinders the workforce without impromptu knowledge about them. Their lack of dynamism and adaptability owing to certain financial restraints are why they lag behind the rest of the society.


Unemployment due to Covid 19 has undoubtedly aggravated the sustainable livelihood of the working strata while simultaneously taking a severe toll on their mental health. The sense of individuals' fear and anxiety becomes evident whenever a layoff occurs at a firm. For the capitalists, it's just another undeserving employee, but for that employee, it questions the survival competency back at home, in a world of 'survival of the fittest.


References


[1] An extract from the ILO publication on “the likely impact of COVID-19 on the achievement of SDG 8”


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