According to foreign media reports, online retail giant Amazon said on Wednesday local time that the company will launch a $ 25 million relief fund to help delivery drivers and seasonal employees during a new corona virus outbreak.
Amazon says the fund, called the Amazon Relief Fund, will help employees in financial distress “during this challenging period.” This includes employees of Flex drivers and their delivery service partners who handle “last mile” package delivery, as well as seasonal employees who help companies manage changes in customer demand during peak and holiday periods.
If they are diagnosed with the new coronavirus, Amazon will allow these employees to apply for a grant equivalent to two weeks’ salary. The company also said it would provide up to two weeks’ wages to all infected or quarantined employees, a move that would take effect immediately. Earlier, there were media reports that Amazon will allow all hourly workers to apply for unlimited and unpaid leave in March.
Beth Galetti, senior vice president of human resources at Amazon, said in a statement: “As we face the challenges associated with the new coronavirus, the health and safety of our employees and contractors around the world It remains our number one priority. Leaders across Amazon meet daily to keep an eye on the evolving situation and consult with medical experts to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our team healthy. “
Amazon has taken several steps to help employees respond to a new coronavirus outbreak. Amazon has told employees in its Seattle, Bellevue, San Francisco Bay Area, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Madrid and Italy offices to work from home in March.
However, unlike employees in the Amazon office, many distribution center employees and delivery drivers cannot perform their job duties while working from home. Amazon’s vast distribution network serves customers’ expected one- and two-day deliveries, employing more than 250,000 employees in more than 110 locations across the United States. The company also relies to some extent on its network of delivery service partners and Flex drivers to handle the “last mile” part of the delivery process.
On Sunday, Amazon eased its attendance policy for employees who “worked in offices, retail stores, distribution centers, delivery stations or sorting centers” in March. The company informs employees that they will not count towards any unpaid leave (UPT) if they need leave.
In addition, Amazon said it will pay salaries to all hourly workers supporting its offices in Seattle, Bellevue, San Francisco Bay Area, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, including food service employees, security and cleaners.
Employees like Flex drivers are contract workers, which means they don’t enjoy the same benefits as full-time employees. If they are not present at the job, they will not be paid. With the spread of the new coronavirus, Amazon Logistics workers have filed petitions calling on the company to take more “protective measures”, including giving workers paid leave.
The petition wrote: “While Amazon has made some limited new coronavirus precautions, it needs a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of all employees and the wider public, including giving employees paid holidays instead of as recently announced Like that, simply extending our unpaid leave. “
While setting up the rescue fund, Amazon also partnered with the Gates Foundation to provide Seattle families with a new coronavirus detection kit. Amazon Care, a virtual medical clinic for employees, is currently negotiating with local public health organizations to use its logistics expertise to help deliver new home-based coronavirus detection kits to people’s homes.
Three people familiar with the matter said the discussions had been going on for more than a week. Specifically, Amazon Care provided assistance to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in a project aimed at providing kits for Seattle residents suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus, including test kits that can be mailed to the University of Washington Perform nasal swabs for analysis.
Seattle has become one of the hardest hit areas for a new coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Schools in the Seattle area have been closed for nearly a week, and King County now reports dozens of new infections every day. Health officials said the increased detection was part of the reason for the dramatic increase in cases.
For the Amazon Care team, working with local public health organizations will be an opportunity for them to expand their focus beyond their own employees. Amazon Care was launched in September 2019 as a pilot project to provide high-quality medical services to employees and their families in the Seattle area. It includes an app and website for employees to ask questions, but you can also choose to arrange a nurse visit to the home if follow-up care is needed.
Amazon has also hired public health experts and doctors to participate in Amazon Care, including pulmonologist Vin Gupta and Dr. Kristi Henderson, the clinical operations leader who previously worked on population health .
The project to create and distribute a home test kit is said to have used funds originally reserved for the Seattle Flu Project to help map the spread of the flu. Other collaborators on the project include the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Amazon Care has specifically proposed to help develop a free delivery plan so that toolkits can be delivered within hours. According to the Seattle Flu Project website, the current Seattle Flu Project sends kits by mail and asks patients to send them back. Involving Amazon may speed up the process.
The goal is to process thousands of exams per day, ideally to keep patients away from doctors’ offices or clinics, as they may be in contact with others. An Amazon Care spokesperson confirmed that the company is discussing with local public health leaders how the company can best help.
As of Wednesday, local time in the United States, there were more than 124,000 coronavirus confirmed cases worldwide, and at least 4,589 people died. There are at least 1,110 confirmed cases in the United States and at least 32 deaths.