“The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world of work upside down”, said Secretary-General António Guterres. “Every worker, every business and every corner of the globe has been affected. Hundreds of millions of jobs have been lost”.
Vulnerable groups are particularly affected, including informal workers, young people, women, persons with disabilities, refugees and migrants, highlights the World of Work and COVID-19 .
The report reveals the disproportionate and devastating impact on young people, raising the possibility of an entire so-called “lockdown generation”, which will likely emerge with fewer skills and smaller pay packets.
In addition to young women, who are at particular risk, this also threatens to increase inequalities, both within and between countries.
“Women have been especially hard hit – working in many of the most critically affected sectors, while also carrying the greatest burden of increasing levels of unpaid care work”, stated the UN chief. “Young people, persons with disabilities, and so many others, are facing tremendous difficulties”.
Meanwhile, high levels of informal work coupled with inadequate fiscal support for equal social protections, leave developing and fragile economies in the lurch, least able to cope.
A reset to the past is not an option, the report spells out, endorsing a recovery that tackles underlying deficits in social protection, unpaid care work, labor rights protection and risks associated with new technologies.
“It is time for a coordinated global, regional and national effort to create decent work for all as the foundation of a green, inclusive and resilient recovery”, stressed the world’s top diplomat.
Against this backdrop, World of Work lays out a three-phased response, which recommends, in the short-term, keeping businesses open and jobs available. It contends that interventions be built on existing structures, while steering activity towards sustainable ‘green’ development.
Without compromising the health of workers or becoming less vigilant in the battle to contain the virus, the second phase focuses on the medium term and encourages a structured restart of economies and a return to work.
“Protecting health does not mean keeping enterprises and economic activity locked down”, the report advises.