Amazon employees who “intentionally violate” social distancing may now be sacked as the retailer comes under increasing pressure to improve employee safety.
Around 50 Amazon warehouses in the US have now seen at least one member of staff test positive for COVID-19 as the public, politicians, and employees have all piled criticism on the online giant.
In response Amazon has now said that any employees deliberately coming closer than six feet with other staff will receive up to two warnings before facing “termination”.
Amazon workers have tested positive for coronavirus—which may live for up to 24 hours on cardboard—at 50 warehouses.
In my view, failures by Amazon to keep workers safe are not only putting their employees at risk. They place the entire country at risk. https://t.co/rBsFOC9Hca
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) April 7, 2020
Despite this, employees have warned that social distancing is simply not possible in Amazon’s warehouses.
Speaking to CNN, Amazon employee from Michigan Mario Crippen said: “In the packing department, there are no walls, so people are really shoulder-to-shoulder.
“The way stuff works, you’ve got to be close to get things done and get packages out.”
Following a week of staff walkouts and the launch of an investigation by New York City’s commission on human rights, Amazon said last week it would roll out the new measures in the US and Europe.
All locations will reportedly have surgical masks available for staff while Amazon said it would start testing hundreds of thousands of staff a week using no-contact forehead thermometers.
Last week Amazon controversially sacked a member of staff Chris Smalls who had organised a staff walkout to protest working conditions.
While Smalls alleges this was in retaliation for the strike, Amazon said Small had be told to self-isolate after coming in close contact with an infected employee, and was sacked for coming into work and endangering other employees.
This led to New York’s Mayor ordering a human rights investigation into the retail gaint.
Amazon said at the time: “Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable.
“We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances and in Staten Island we are now temperature checking everyone entering the facility.”