Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.
The global coronavirus pandemic threw Petra Hamann's job into peril faster than just about any other. She is a physical therapist, a profession that is all about close proximity to others, with a clientele that leans toward older people, exactly the population most vulnerable to the virus. In March, she and the rest of the 10-person therapy group that employed her lost virtually all of their clients, first as a result of clients' fears about coming in for appointments, then as a result of government stay-at-home orders.
But neither Hamann nor anyone else in her group lost their job. Instead, they were kept on and, even while having zero clients, received 60 percent of their normal pay. As about half her clients gradually started to return in recent weeks, she began making 80 percent of her usual pay (including compensation for the clients who had not come back). And she was able to do so without having to negotiate any paperwork or online bureaucracy; she and her co-workers simply signed a form from their employer.