Amazon warehouse staff who want to stay at home to prevent COVID-19 will have to request a formal application soon. The online retailer asks employees who are staying at home either to return to their shifts effective on May 1st or to ask for leave. A spokesperson told Bloomberg that both part-time and full-time staff would have the right to leave, while a company blog post made it clear that leave would be given for a number of COVID-19 situations such as “high-risk people” (including family members) and school closures.
The internet giant even sought to convince staff and the public that there would be improved working conditions. It emphasised that it was performing temperature checks, and that it planned to “soon” start monitoring certain workers directly for COVID-19. It also applied a $2 rise to hourly base pay by May 16.
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The decision shows the Amazon is attempting to strike the balance. It is eager to prevent a workforce shortage as it continues to deal with high demand throughout the pandemic, but it also faces a backlash from concerned employees that it does not do enough to protect them from the latest coronavirus. The latest solution to leave addresses both sides technically, but it could leave some frustrated because they are forced either to take the risk of infection at work (whatever it may be large or small) or to find a new job in an increasingly unforgiving sector.