During much of the pandemic, Amazon offered free on-site Covid testing for employees. It incorporated a variety of design features into the warehouses to promote social distancing. But an Amazon warehouse worker in Oregon, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal, said there had been a gradual reduction in security features, such as removing physical barriers to enforce social distancing.
Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said the company removed barriers in parts of the warehouses where workers don’t spend much time nearby, but maintained distancing measures in d ‘other areas, such as break rooms.
“We are continuously evaluating the temporary measures we have implemented in response to Covid-19 and making adjustments as directed by public health authorities,” Ms. Nantel said. She added that the company “will start scaling back its testing operations in the United States by July 30, 2021.”
At REI, the outdoor gear and clothing retailer, four workers in different parts of the country, who asked not to be named for fear of workplace repercussions, complained that the company had recently adopted a potentially more punitive presence policy than it had planned to put in place just before the pandemic. Under the policy, part-time workers who use more than their allocated sick days are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination if absences are not excused. Workers also said they feared many stores – after limiting capacity until this spring – have become increasingly crowded.
REI spokesperson Halley Knigge said under its new policies the company allowed part-time workers to accumulate sick leave for the first time and that the disciplinary policy was not substantially new but simply rephrased. Stores, she added, continue to restrict occupancy to no more than 50% of capacity, as they have been doing since June 2020.
Workers elsewhere in the retail sector have also complained about the growing crowds and the difficulty in distancing themselves inside stores like supermarkets. Karyn Johnson-Dorsey, a personal buyer from Riverside, Calif. Who finds work on Instacart but also has her own client list, said it was increasingly difficult to maintain a safe distance from non-clients. masked since the state relaxed masking and capacity restrictions. in mid-June.