Each year since 2017, Enjuris has sponsored a privately-funded scholarship essay contest in which we give a prompt to college students. For example, in the past we’ve addressed topics such as:
- Do you think cell phone manufacturers should be held responsible for distracted driving?
- What’s the best advice you’ve received about driving safely & avoiding car accidents?
- Who’s to blame when a self-driving car causes a crash?
This year, we decided to switch it up a little by focusing the essay prompt on a topic that has been on all of our minds lately: coronavirus. Specifically, we asked students to answer the following question in under 500 words:
“What legal obligations and duties should employers and businesses owe workers and the public to protect them from diseases such as coronavirus?”
Yet again, we received so many thoughtful and well-crafted essays that selecting just one winner was not easy. In the end though, we found that the winning essay most clearly and skillfully addressed the prompt question.
Without further ado, we’d like to present to you the 2020 winning essay, submitted by Victoria St. Martin. Victoria is currently studying Psychology at Southern New Hampshire University.
Legal Obligations and Duties for Employers Through the Pandemic
The legal obligations and duties employers and businesses owe workers and the public to protect them from diseases such as coronavirus is innumerable. “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is defined as illness caused by a novel coronavirus now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2; formerly called 2019-nCoV), which was first identified amid an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.  It was initially reported to the WHO on December 31, 2019. On January 30, 2020, the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global health emergency.” (Cennimo, 2020). Since the outbreak has occurred various people have been discussing and deciding different law obligations in order to proceed with present life in the safest manner. Employers and businesses are required to not only follow but also manage employees to cooperate with these obligations. For instance, duties include requiring everyone within the building to be wearing a mask, washing their hands frequently and avoiding handshaking to prevent the spread of the virus. Some businesses have even required glass windows or shields to protect each other from risk. In addition, employees should be routinely disinfecting and sanitizing their workplace such as handrails, doorknobs, counters, and any other often touched space. There should be various posters displayed encouraging the prevention of the disease as well. Maintaining a six foot distance from other parties and forbidding more than ten people to a group is especially important as well. Sharing objects such as cell phones, tools and other materials should be prohibited. “COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Most importantly anyone who has assimilated coronavirus or is showing symptoms must be prohibited from the area at once. If an employee or family member within the household of said employee happens to have the virus, they should be asked to leave the business establishment at once and return to work when obtaining a negative testing result. It is stated“..people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Thus, if an employee starts to feel poorly, they should make an appointment to take a coronavirus test at once. While being sick at home, I personally believe every employee should be covered by their employers in order to financially survive. In conclusion, shortening the open business hours and employee shifts are important as well. In fact, Many employers have temporarily and permanently closed their businesses due to the outbreak. It is extremely important that Employers educate themselves about the coronavirus by staying in touch with health insurance companies and other businesses. It is the employer’s job to enforce these laws on to their employees and manage the business making sure all procedures and rules are followed correctly. Unfortunately, if an employee is not listening to the rules and law obligations, he or she should then be fired and asked to leave the premises. These requirements and duties are especially important to ensure that we are cautious and safe during this pandemic outbreak.
David, Cennimo J. “How Did the Coronavirus Outbreak Start?” Latest Medical News, Clinical Trials, Guidelines – Today on Medscape, 7 Oct. 2020, www.medscape.com/answers/2500114-197402/how-did-the-coronavirus-outbreak-start.
“Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 July 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html.
About the winner
Victoria St. Martin is 22 years old and lives in Millis, Massachusetts. She is enrolled online at Southern New Hampshire University to obtain her Bachelor’s degree (then hopefully her Master’s degree) in psychology. She is the first in her family to be enrolled in college.
Victoria has worked as a server for the last few years trying to raise money to pay for school. When she’s not working, she helps around the house, takes care of her 20 and 13-year-old sisters and studies.
Congrats Victoria and well done! We wish you the best in your studies.
Be sure to come back soon to check out our follow-up post where we highlight some of our favorite submissions from other students as part of this essay contest. Thanks to everyone who applied and remember to visit the Enjuris Scholarship page soon for our next essay contest.