Companies respond to worker complaints over coronavirus

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A traveller uses hand sanitizer from a dispenser at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Workers at Geico, Spectrum cable and UPS mail  delivery services have complained that the companies are not taking precautions against the novel coronavirus as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including letting employees work from home. 

All three companies responded to questions from WIVB, saying that they are taking precautions to protect their employees. 

Geico, effective immediately, is allowing non-management employees who can work from home that option if they want it. 

Spectrum spokeswoman Lara Pritchard said the cable company is one of FEMA’s Community Lifeline Sectors, which means the company provides indispensable service that enables the continuous operation of critical business and government functions, and is critical to human health and safety, or economic security

“Our services are essential,” Pritchard said.

“We are working around the clock to deliver uninterrupted internet, phone and TV news services to our 29 million customers, including critical institutions like hospitals, first responders and government facilities.”

That being said, Pritchard said the company is applying CDC guidelines, while also trying to maintain its operations. 

“We are reviewing our business and employee continuity plans daily, and will adjust accordingly,” she said.

Pritchard said some of the steps Spectrum has taken include daily cleaning of “high-touch” areas, distance coaching and meetings and it has altered break schedules to limit the number of employees in break rooms and cafeterias.

UPS spokesman Matthew O’Connor said UPS provides employees with “advice on how to help prevent contracting infectious diseases and what to do should they exhibit any symptoms.”

“This includes instituting hygiene protocols that are in line with suggested U.S. CDC and WHO measures,” he said. “If any employee experiences symptoms such as fever or respiratory infection, they are required to seek medical care immediately and not come to work.”

UPS’s larger facilities have multiple sortation shifts and employees are assigned to specific workstations that are spread out across each facility, O’Connor said. 

“In our more highly automated facilities, employees are spread even further apart,” he said.  “We have informed all employees about social distancing and hygiene protocols to maintain their health and minimize the chance of exposure. Our employees understand the role we play in the economy and that our customers count on them. 

Additional details on How UPS is responding to COVID-19 can be found by clicking the link.

Geico spokesman said the “health and safety of our associates are our priorities.”
“These challenging times require us to be adaptable and respond quickly to the needs and concerns of our associates. That is what we have done and will continue to do,” Geico said in a statement. 

Geico said the company is “closely monitoring” the directives from Governor Andrew Cuomo. Non-management employees who are already able to work from home “are being provided this option, effective immediately” Geico said. 

“We are also working hard to extend telework capabilities to more of our associates,” Geico said.

Geico said the company has also taken the following steps in response to the novel coronavirus: 

  • Amended its leave policy to offer a wider number of leave options for any associate who wishes to take time off;
  • Canceled all work-related travel, in-person conferences and volunteer engagements;
  • Limited access to its buildings for non-associates; 
  • Initiated a self-quarantine policy for associates who have recently traveled to Level 3 countries or took a cruise;
  • Continued enhanced cleaning procedures to reduce spread of germs.

“As of now, there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus among our associates,” Geico said. 

“Still, we recognize concerns about the outbreak are causing anxiety and fear.  We will continue to support our associates and take steps as need to protect them.”

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