UnitedHealth tells tens of thousands of employees to keep coming into work unless sick, high-risk

While companies across the U.S. implement work-from-home policies to help combat the spread of COVID-19, UnitedHealth Group has instructed its employees who aren't sick, high-risk or facing other obstacles to go to work, according to The Washington Post.

In a March 15 memo shared with UnitedHealth's 325,000 employees and managers, UnitedHealth said its employees, including 100,000 clinicians, are "expected to come to their assigned work location unless they have self-identified as being at higher risk for serious COVID-19 illness or are experiencing symptoms of respiratory infection, such as cough, fever or runny nose." Other exemptions include accommodations for employees who can't find alternative child care or face public transportation barriers.

A UnitedHealth spokesperson told the publication that nearly half of its U.S. staff are already in a virtual working environment, and most who aren't provide care or directly assist in the provision of care.

In a separate memo to employees obtained by The Washington Post, UnitedHealth's CEO Dave Wichmann said, "as you continue to hear about the actions of other companies, please keep in mind that we are not like the other businesses in your community. … Our healthcare services are essential. We cannot walk away. We cannot close our doors. People are depending on us. They need us … each and every one of us … fully engaged and doing our very best work."

Other national payers — including Cigna and Humana — have strongly encouraged those who are able to work remotely to do so, according to the report.

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