Amazon Sets New Policies To Keep Distribution Moving

Amazon has been dealing with coronavirus complications in its distribution system including, for example, the closure of a New York City fulfillment center in the borough of Queens that had not reopened by press time as the company works to sanitize the facility after a worker tested positive for COVID-19.

Media reports have circulated about facility closures for sanitizing purposes to prevent coronavirus spread, including a fulfillment center in Kentucky, and employee concerns about how Amazon is passing along information about potentially sick workers.

Responding to a HomeWorld Business inquiry, Amazon detailed how it is addressing the impact of COVID-19 on its distribution system, saying it would alert any associate who had close contact with a person at threat of developing coronavirus illness at one of its buildings and ask them to not return to the site and to self-quarantine for 14 days. Amazon will pay such an associate and workers who fall victim to COVID-19 up to two weeks pay for the time in self-quarantine at home. The two weeks is in addition to unlimited unpaid time off available to all hourly employees through the end of April.

In facilities where a positive test has occurred, the company stated, Amazon has made employees at the site aware of a confirmed case.

According to the company, Amazon is consulting with health authorities and medical experts on how to handle building closures for deep cleaning if an employee tests positive for COVID-19. An evaluation process reviews where the employee was in the building, for how long, how much time has passed since the person was in the facility and on-site interactions in determining how to appropriately handle the situation.

In addition, Amazon said, it has implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees as well as delivery and transportation partners at its sites around the world such as increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning at all facilities including regular sanitization of all door handles, stairway handrails, elevator buttons, lockers and touch screens, and adjusting practices to ensure social distancing within its buildings.

In its facilities, Amazon has issued instructions for requiring employees to stay home and seek medical attention if they are feeling unwell and, establishing attendance policies in support; halting stand-up meetings during shifts, with all business essential information to be shared via boards near main areas and through conversations with managers, or human resources staffers; moving chairs and spreading out tables in break rooms; staggering shift start and break times to promote social distancing; suspending exit screenings until further notice to ensure ease of movement near main entrances; enabling a temporary cell phone process for those who need to be in contact with their families or childcare providers; and training modification to small formats and in-app training tools and other means that don’t require person to person association.