As one step in its efforts to handle the spread of COVID-19, Walmart plans to start screening its employees’ temperatures when they report to work, the company said in a blog post. John Furner, President and CEO, Walmart U.S., and Kath McLay, President and CEO, Sam’s Club, indicated that Walmart also will give employees masks and gloves upon request.
The retailer is in the process of sending infrared thermometers to all stores, distribution centers and fulfillment centers, which may take anywhere from one to three weeks. Masks will begin arriving as soon as this week. The company described the masks as high quality, but not the N95 respirators that at-risk health care workers need.
Temperature taking will begin at distribution and fulfillment centers and in coronavirus hotspots such as New York and Louisiana. Employees with temperatures of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit will be sent home and paid for the shift they miss. Walmart will ask them to seek medical treatment if necessary and tell them not return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days.
The steps will take effect in all Walmart and Sam’s Club stores.
Walmart pays employees for up to two weeks if they become sick with COVID-19 or have to quarantine. If an employee who had COVID-19 is not able to return to work, they can get additional pay for up to 26 weeks.
Additionally, Walmart is sharing a new “6, 20 and 100” framework among its employees to maintain healthy behaviors at work. The company asks employees to remain six feet apart from others whenever possible to maintain social distancing. The “20” refers to the seconds employees are recommended to wash their hands for, while “100” represents the 100-degree temperature which requires Walmart employees to stay home.
“We continue to follow and communicate the CDC’s recommended guidance on behaviors like washing hands, social distancing and the cleaning of surfaces,” Furner and McLay said in the blog post. “And we have made significant operational changes in our stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers this month — such as closing overnight for cleaning, starting to install sneeze guards at checkout and pharmacies, using wipes and sprayers for carts, putting in signing for social distancing and implementing a COVID-19 emergency leave policy.”
Walmart’s recent decisions come as some hourly grocery and delivery workers push for safer conditions and higher pay. Amazon workers at a Staten Island, N.Y. warehouse and Instacart workers across the country organized a strike on March 30, while some workers at Amazon-owned Whole Foods planned a “sick out” for March 31.
Walmart is hiring 150,000 new part-time and full-time employees to keep up with customers’ demand for groceries and household essentials. Walmart’s EVP of Corporate Affairs Dan Bartlett said the company already has hired nearly 50,000 new workers and is averaging approximately 5,000 new hires per day.