But as the outbreak tightens its grip on the United States and dozens of states enact lockdown orders, those still leaving home to work are increasingly vulnerable. 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.
To protect against spread of the novel coronavirus, Walmart is shipping infrared thermometers to all its stores so 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.
“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. “The associate will not be able to return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days.
Walmart also will make gloves and masks available to employees who want them. The masks will be “high-quality” but not the top-shelf N95 respirators, "which should be reserved for at-risk health care workers,” the retailer said. The masks will arrive in within two weeks, but workers will not be required to use them.
Although most of Walmart’s stores have stayed open during the pandemic, the retail giant has cut hours and reduced or suspended some services to give employees more time to stock and sanitize.
The company also has taken steps to make its shopping experience more social-distancing friendly: It put up in-store reminders to stay 6 feet apart, enacted no-touch shopping procedures and installed sneeze and cough guards at registers.