‘Legitimate Reason’
“You need to make sure that we have a legitimate reason for why we’re treating some people differently than others, and it has to be based on the job,” Barella said. “It is true, and it will be true, that a lot of jobs are capable of being performed remotely, whereas others are not.”

The United Auto Workers has raised the issue with Fiat Chrysler and other companies, seeking paid leave for workers who self-quarantine. While union contracts cover sick leave, there’s uncertainty regarding workers who have to isolate themselves to prevent the spread of the virus. General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have also asked white-collar employees to work from home.

“The UAW feels strongly that no member should be disadvantaged in response to the Covid-19 process,” Cindy Estrada, a union vice president, wrote in an email to members.

The issue came to a head at Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor, Canada, minivan plant, where employees have refused to go to work since Thursday after a factory worker self-quarantined, a company spokeswoman said. The Canadian Ministry of Health has determined the plant is safe and the automaker is meeting with the union to try to get workers to return, the spokeswoman said.

Go Awry
Even with a clear concept and good intentions, plans can go awry in the rapidly changing environment, as JPMorgan discovered.

JPMorgan had moved faster than most other U.S. banks in implementing measures, such as restricting non-essential travel for its entire workforce and asking staff to test remote access capability.

On Monday, it was prepared to go further by implementing a staggered work-from-home policy for roughly a third of its 127,137 consumer-unit employees who work from corporate offices across the country. But it put the plan on pause while leaders debated what would happen if implemented company-wide and how to communicate what could be a touchy issue given the branch employees and call-center operators, people familiar with the talks said earlier this week.

It wasn’t until New York state sought business help that the bank implemented on Thursday a staggered work-from-home plan for its New York-area employees.

Wells Fargo & Co., which also has thousands of branches, has been testing limited work-from-home capabilities this week. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., BlackRock Inc. and Citigroup Inc. asked portions of their staff to work from home in rotating shifts.

Retail giant Costco Wholesale Corp., which is based in Issaquah, Washington, bucked the trend altogether, so far, telling headquarters workers to stay at their desks unless ill.