Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) just joined the growing chorus of companies telling workers to stay home, if they can, through the end of the month, as the outbreak of COVID-19 illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus continues to march across the globe.
"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 a 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."
Last week, Amazon "recommended" that workers in Seattle, Bellevue, and the San Francisco Bay area work from home through the end of the month. The company took the then extraordinary step after one of its employees who worked in Seattle tested positive for the disease. Amazon later made a similar request to staff at Audible -- its audiobook company -- headquartered in New York and New Jersey.
By having employees work from home, Amazon is trying to promote "social distancing," or staying away from others, in order to help halt the spread of the pandemic.
This is just the latest in a growing list of extraordinary steps the company has taken to protect its workforce. Yesterday, Amazon announced it would grant two weeks of paid sick leave to any employee who was either diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in quarantine after exposure to the disease. The tech giant also established a $25 million relief fund to help support contract employees and delivery drivers facing financial challenges.
Amazon had previously said it would pay all hourly employees -- including food service, security guards, and janitorial staff -- their regular pay, even as it asks staff to work from home.