As U.S. auto manufacturing plants restart operations this week, the Detroit Free Press reports that Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is hiring additional temporary workers, planning ahead for COVID-19 absences. "Due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, we are hiring additional temporary workers in our plants to cover what we expect will be an increase in absenteeism," the report quoted Kelli Felker, Ford global manufacturing and labor communications manager, as saying. 

Local union president at Ford's Rouge complex, Bernie Ricke, told the Free Press he believed approximately 1,300 workers were being added, in anticipation of workers calling in sick as well as potentially being sent home when temperature scans result in high readings when reporting to work. He said "the company is being proactive." 

auto assembly line worker welding on auto frame

Image source: Getty Images.

Ford was joined by General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) in restarting North American operations this week with new safety protocols and practices in place. GM said it developed its new practices in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, as well as advice from plants in other countries that had already restarted production. 

GM released a COVID-19 Employee Guide that includes basic new protocols and information on how employees can help protect themselves and others, including outside the workplace. Further details include how temperature checks will work upon entering the plants, face mask requirements including proper care and disposal, and best practices for sanitization and social distancing.