- Some Amazon facilities have started conducting daily temperature checks of employees before they go into work.
- If an employee registers a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, they are required to stay home until they have been fever-free for 72 hours.
- Despite being forced to stay home, Amazon will only pay workers up to 5 hours of their missed time.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Amazon warehouses across the country continue to operate despite increasing reports of confirmed coronavirus cases among employees. Some Amazon warehouses have begun conducting daily temperature checks in hopes of curbing the spread of infection in their facilities – but many employees turned away will have their wages slashed by half.
If an individual is running a fever at or above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celcius) they will be asked to go home. According to the new policy, the employee will be asked to remain home until they have been fever-free for at least 72 hours – without the use of fever-reducing medication.
Amazon began rolling out temperature checks at certain locations around the US on March 29, but plan to roll out the new policy across their entire US and European operations network and Whole Foods Market stores, according to a post on Amazon corporate’s website. Amazon estimates that it is temperature checking more than 100,000 employees per day.
“Amazon associates and partners working in our operations network and data centers are among the many heroes of the COVID-19 crisis,” read a statement from Amazon’s website. “Nothing is more important to us than making sure that we protect the health of our teams, and we’ve been working around the clock since the early days of the outbreak to make changes to our processes and procure the necessary supplies for this.”
According to several sources that wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, facilities in Kentucky, Texas, Arizona, and Pennsylvania have been checking employees’ temperatures before their shifts.
“We are now temperature checking more than 100,000 employees per day,” the memo reads. “The complete rollout of temperature checks across our entire U.S. and European operations network and Whole Foods Market stores is expected by early next week, at which point we will be testing hundreds of thousands of people daily.
Despite being turned away from work, Amazon will only pay those employees up to 5 hours of their missed shift, according to an Amazon warehouse employee.
Although Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment or confirm this policy, Business Insider confirmed this policy from an audio recording of a conversation from an individual at the Amazon Employee Resource Center.
For many warehouse employees who work at Amazon, this new policy could be a devastating blow. Previous data showed that many of its employees rely on government assistance programs – in Arizona, one in three employees Amazon employees was on food stamps or lived with someone who was received public assistance.
For one Amazon worker who works 10-hour shifts at a warehouse in Phoenix, Arizona, the new policy means a 50% pay cut.
“If I had to stay home for three days as told by corporate, then I’d be losing, at 50% pay, I’d be losing out on $255,” he told Business Insider.
“Some of us live from paycheck to paycheck,” he said, adding that because many Amazon locations are near major metropolitan areas, that many employees’ salaries are under the living wage.
Andrea Houtsch, who works as a sorter at an Amazon facility in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, said they began checking temperatures at her facility as well. She told Business Insider that if she was running a fever, she would lose close to $200 for every shift she was scheduled to work.
“I would hate to not even realize so I have a fever and then get to work and then returned away,” the 41-year-old told Business Insider. “It’s not like Amazonians make the most money. So it’s a tough spot to be in.”
In addition to the financial blow this new policy could deal to Amazon workers, Houtsch complained that the policy was lagging, like many of its other coronavirus precautionary measures. To her knowledge, her Pennsylvania facility alone has 18 confirmed coronavirus cases.
“As far as the policy itself, I think taking temperatures is just a little too late in the process when it comes to symptoms,” she said.
The new policy comes after Amazon workers across the nation have made clamorous calls for the e-commerce giant to do more to protect its workers as they continue to operate amid the coronavirus outbreak. Amazon workers have complained that it’s impossible to implement social distancing in their warehouses and many said they fear for their own safety.
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