Amazon asks all employees to work from home, if they can

Amazon issued guidance Thursday in response to the COVID-19 outbreak recommending that global employees who are able to work from home to do so through the end of March.

“We continue to work closely with public and private medical experts to ensure we are taking the right precautions as the situation continues to evolve,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an email statement. “As a result, we are now recommending that all of our employees globally who are able to work from home do so through the end of March.”

Earlier this week, Amazon said it would provide two weeks of extra paid time off for full and part-time employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine. This is in addition to unlimited unpaid time off for all hourly employees through the end of March. The company said it will continue to pay all hourly employees, including food service, janitorial and security staff, who support its offices around the world.

Amazon employs some 798,000 employees. While some Amazon office workers will be able to work from home, the vast majority of its workforce have jobs that require them to be on site. The company is reliant on tens of thousands of delivery drivers and employees who work at the more than 100 order fulfillment centers.

Amazon’s move follows the call from global health officials to take measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, a disease caused by a new virus that is a member of the coronavirus family and a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses. COVID-19 has caused governments and companies to cancel tech, business and automotive events around the world, including the NCAA March Madness basketball tournaments, professional sports games in the NBA and NHL, the Geneva International Motor Show, MWC in Barcelona and the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Disneyland and California Adventure will close through the end of the month.

It has also prompted companies to recommend its employees to work from home. Google href=”https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/10/google-expands-work-from-home-recommendation-to-all-north-american-employees-establishes-covid-19-fund/”> expanded its work-from-home recommendation to include all employees in North America. Box, Lyft, Microsoft and Twitter have also issued memos to employees to recommend or require staff to work from home. In some cases, companies have committed to maintaining wages in spite of reduced hours.