Walmart (WMT), the nation’s largest private employer, upped its safety measures for its 1.4 million associates due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said the company will begin taking temperatures as employees report to work at its stores and facilities.
“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.”
Furner noted that the company is sending infrared thermometers to all locations, which could take up to three weeks to arrive. He also encouraged employees to continue taking their temperatures at home and monitor symptoms and “never come to work when they don’t feel well.”
Walmart will also offer its workforce the option to wear gloves and masks, but not N95 respirators, which Furner notes “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,” Furner wrote.
The move for Walmart, the world’s largest grocery store, comes in the wake of grocery workers at competitors staging walkouts. On Monday, Instacart workers walked out, demanding $5 hazard pay, an extension of sick pay, and better safety precautions. In Staten Island, New York, more than 60 Amazon (AMZN) workers went on strike over safety concerns. On Tuesday, Whole Foods workers are planning a nationwide “sick out” demanding Amazon offer hazard pay and adequate sanitation.
Earlier this month, Walmart deployed a new emergency leave policy for its associates. The company also announced plans to hire 150,000 hourly associates now through the end of May in the U.S. and shared plans to give out $550 million in cash bonuses to reward workers on the frontlines.
Walmart has already reduced its store operating hours to allow for overnight cleaning and sanitation. The big-box retailer added sneeze guards in the pharmacy and checkout registers, shopping cart sanitation, and social distancing floor decals across its store fleet.
There are nearly 4,700 Walmart stores in the U.S., with about 90% of the U.S. population living within 10 miles of a location.
Julia La Roche is a Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.