New York lawmakers are cracking down on a state-funded company that has been accused of not protecting its workers from the coronavirus, The Post has learned.
Four state legislators fired off a letter last week urging Maximus to address complaints about insufficient pandemic protections at its New York call centers, which runs customer service call centers for the state’s health insurance marketplace, New York State of Health.
Citing reports in The Post and the Albany Times Union, the lawmakers asked the Virginia-based giant to work with an employee committee to resolve the complaints, which include a lack of Clorox wipes and roadblocks to working from home.
“This is not a candy store owner who isn’t providing masks to its employees,” Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who chairs the chamber’s Health Committee, told The Post in an interview.
“Unless Maximus is really hearing from its workers and working with them on a basis of respect, it’s hard to see the company doing the right thing,” the Manhattan Democrat added, noting that Maximus has billions of dollars in state contracts.
As The Post previously reported. Maximus staffers have stayed home from work in recent weeks to avoid catching the deadly coronavirus, citing a lack of sanitizing supplies and inconsistent enforcement of social distancing rules.
The company says less than 30 percent of its employees are working in the office as it moves more staff to at-home work. But workers have reported delays in that transition, and those without a car can’t pick up the equipment needed to work remotely from the Albany and Rochester sites, according to the lawmakers’ letter.
There have also been problems with paid leave requests and confusion over whether Maximus will penalize staff who miss work for coronavirus-related reasons, says the letter signed by the heads of the Legislature’s health and labor committees.
“It is paramount that frontline workers performing essential work on behalf of the Department of Health to help New Yorkers access health coverage amidst this health and employment crisis neither be placed at unnecessary risk, nor be treated unfairly,” the letter says.
Maximus is standing by its efforts to protect its staff amid the virus crisis, which include mandated social distancing, increased sanitization and a daily health screening for workers reporting to the office.
The company has also offered “robust” paid leave plans and flexible schedules while moving staff to remote work — a process that’s been slowed by shortages of equipment such as laptops and headsets, Maximus spokeswoman Lisa Miles said.
“We are committed to the safety of our employees while at the same time ensuring that New York State citizens continue to have access to the most essential programs,” Miles said in a statement.
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