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Amazon to Require All U.S. Warehouse Employees to Put on Masks Once more

Amazon to Require All U.S. Warehouse Employees to Put on Masks Once more

Amazon, the nation’s second-largest non-public employer, behind

Walmart Inc.,

WMT 0.13%

had beforehand solely required warehouse workers to put on masks in the event that they weren’t vaccinated towards Covid-19 or labored in jurisdictions the place face coverings had been required indoors.

The corporate employs about 1,000,000 employees within the U.S. and has gone on a number of hiring sprees because the begin of the pandemic, principally including a whole bunch of hundreds of hourly workers to its warehousing operations.

The directive was introduced by way of inner communications channels to Amazon warehouse employees.

“The well being and security of our workers is of the utmost significance to us,” the discover says. “We hope this can solely be required for the winter months and that additional into 2022 we will return to our earlier face masking coverage, the place permitted.”

It isn’t the primary time that Amazon has altered its stance on masks this yr. The corporate in August started requiring all warehouse employees to put on them, no matter vaccination standing, in response to the rise of the Delta variant, which was spreading quickly on the time. Final month, after Covid-19 infections slowed, Amazon mentioned employees who confirmed proof of their vaccination standing wouldn’t should put on masks except native directives mentioned in any other case. Now, the corporate has returned to requiring all warehouse employees to masks up.

Earlier this week, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention mentioned Omicron had overtaken the Delta variant within the U.S. and accounted for an estimated 73% of infections for the week ended Dec. 18. CDC officers have inspired folks to put on masks in public indoor areas, no matter vaccination standing.

The brand new variant’s unfold has been hurting companies in a variety of industries and it has led corporations to quickly shut their places of work or postpone plans for at-home employees to come back again. International locations together with Israel, the Netherlands and Germany have imposed new journey restrictions, and lots of large-scale occasions reminiscent of live shows have been canceled or postponed. This week, the World Financial Discussion board mentioned it could postpone subsequent month’s annual assembly within the Swiss mountain resort of Davos for the second successive yr.

In latest months, some U.S. corporations have moved to require all employees and friends at their services to get a Covid-19 vaccine, together with tech giants reminiscent of

Microsoft Corp.

MSFT 1.81%

and

Fb

FB -1.12%

guardian

Meta Platforms Inc.

Amazon hasn’t mandated that its employees get vaccinated although it has supplied incentives for them to take action, reminiscent of bonuses.

Early within the pandemic, lockdowns and work-from-home life induced a big uptick in on-line purchasing, prompting a surge in orders that was troublesome for Amazon to maintain up with as some warehouse employees stayed house. The tech big supplied unpaid depart and a lift in pay for a time to encourage workers to work, however some criticized the corporate for being sluggish to enact insurance policies that will restrict the unfold of Covid-19.

The Omicron variant induced greater than 70% of recent coronavirus circumstances within the U.S. registered the week ending Dec. 18, in keeping with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. The surge comes as the vacations strategy and a few folks rethink journey plans. Picture: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

Amazon has defended its response to the pandemic, and mentioned it complies with all legal guidelines and supplies breaks and security measures which might be essential to maintain its warehouses operational. This yr, the corporate has raised wages all through its services and launched new security applications geared toward educating employees about physique mechanics.

Nonetheless, some workers have begun to ask for a return of pay will increase reminiscent of a $2-an-hour bump that employees obtained for a time on the onset of the pandemic. The Amazon Labor Union, an unbiased group representing employees within the Staten Island borough of New York Metropolis, on Wednesday filed a second petition for a union election.

The group withdrew an earlier petition final month after it didn’t show there was enough assist for a vote. The union, which operates with out the backing of a serious nationwide labor group, has mentioned it seeks to attain greater wages, create safer working situations and improve paid day without work, breaks and medical-leave choices.

A spokeswoman for Amazon mentioned the corporate’s focus stays on listening on to its workers and constantly enhancing on their behalf. She additionally mentioned Amazon is skeptical {that a} ample variety of professional worker signatures has been secured to warrant an election.

The Nationwide Labor Relations Board will overview the submitting after which confirm whether or not the group has ample assist for a vote earlier than setting an election date, a spokeswoman for the federal company mentioned.

Write to Sarah E. Needleman at sarah.needleman@wsj.com

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Firm, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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