April 2, 2020
Walmart has some new “people greeters”—but they are for employees, not customers. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant will begin checking workers’ temperatures this month, and providing them with gloves and masks—stepping up its safety protocols as it hires roughly 5,000 employees a day to meet heightened demand during the coronavirus crisis, The Boston Globe reports.
The company is shipping infrared thermometers to all its stores so that employees can have their temperatures checked when they report for work, the company announced in a blog post. The thermometers should arrive in three weeks.
The masks will arrive within two weeks. Walmart notes, “They will be high-quality masks, but not N95 respirators—which should be reserved for at-risk healthcare workers.
“We encourage anyone who would like to wear a mask or gloves at work to ask their supervisor for them,” the retailer says, “while keeping in mind that it is still possible to spread germs while wearing them.”
“Any associate with a temperature of 100.0 degrees will be paid for reporting to work and asked to return home and seek medical treatment if necessary,” the blog post said, adding, “The associate will not be able to return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days.”
Walmart said its employees are eligible for as much as two weeks paid leave, if they are required to quarantine; and that absences would not be held against them.
Most retailers have been pummeled by the coronavirus shutdown. Indeed, the United States had a record 3.3 million jobless claims last week—but not Walmart. The nation’s largest private employer has ramped up hiring and is on track to have 150,000 jobs filled by the end of May, executives announced in a call with reporters on Tuesday.
The company has shortened its hiring process from an average of two weeks to “as little as 24 hours,” HR Dive reported.
The company promises, as it continues to build up its workforce, “We will continue to consult with health officials and experts inside and outside Walmart as this situation evolves. We greatly appreciate the work our associates are doing for customers, members, and their communities, and we will continue to prioritize their health and well-being.”
Research contact: @BostonGlobe