HOUSTON — Walmart is making health-based changes for its employees in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced Tuesday.
The big changes include taking the temperature of workers as they arrive for their shifts and asking them some basic health questions. Stores will also provide masks and gloves for employees who wish to wear them.
Each store will eventually have infrared thermometers to take employees' temperatures, but it could take up to three weeks to have them in place in all locations, the company warned.
"Our COVID-19 emergency leave policy allows associates to stay home if they have any COVID-19 related symptoms, concerns, illness or are quarantined – knowing that their jobs will be protected," a statement from the company also noted.
RELATED: Coronavirus updates: view live blog
Here is Walmart's full statement released Tuesday:
As our company and country continue to deal with the spread of COVID-19, we remain focused on the health and safety of our associates.
We continue to follow and communicate the CDC’s recommended guidance on behaviors like washing hands, social distancing and the cleaning of surfaces. And we have made significant operational changes in our stores, clubs, DCs and FCs this month – such as closing overnight for cleaning, starting to install sneeze guards at checkout and pharmacies, using wipes and sprayers for carts, putting in signing for social distancing and implementing a COVID-19 emergency leave policy.
Today we’re sharing additional steps we’re taking to promote a safe and healthy workplace.
As the COVID-19 situation has evolved, we’ve decided to begin taking the temperatures of our associates as they report to work in stores, clubs and facilities, as well as asking them some basic health screening questions. We are in the process of sending infrared thermometers to all locations, which could take up to 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 associate will not be able to return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days.
Many associates have already been taking their own temperatures at home, and we’re asking them to continue that practice as we start doing it on-site. And we’ll continue to ask associates to look out for other symptoms of the virus (coughing, feeling achy, difficulty breathing) and never come to work when they don’t feel well.
Our COVID-19 emergency leave policy allows associates to stay home if they have any COVID-19 related symptoms, concerns, illness or are quarantined – knowing that their jobs will be protected.
Masks and Gloves
Today we are also sharing more guidance with our associates regarding masks and gloves.
While the CDC and other health officials do not recommend masks or gloves for healthy people who don't ordinarily use them for their jobs, we will make them available — as supplies permit — for associates who want to wear them.
The masks will arrive in 1-2 weeks. They will be high-quality masks, but not N95 respirators – which should be reserved for at-risk healthcare workers.
We encourage anyone who would like to wear a mask or gloves at work to ask their supervisor for them, while keeping in mind that it is still possible to spread germs while wearing them.
This week we are also sharing a new framework with associates regarding healthy behaviors at work. We’re asking them to remember three numbers: 6, 20 and 100.
6 feet is the amount of space people should keep from others, when possible, to maintain social distancing.
20 seconds is the amount of time people should take to wash their hands with soap and water.
And 100 is the temperature that someone should stay home with.
We will continue to consult with health officials and experts inside and outside Walmart as this situation evolves. We greatly appreciate the work our associates are doing for customers, members, and their communities, and we will continue to prioritize their health and well-being.