Amazon, Uber, Salesforce, and Cisco join a growing chorus of tech companies paying hourly and wage workers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak

REUTERS/Lindsey WassonMicrosoft president Brad Smith announced the company would continue to pay hourly workers despite reduced staffing needs surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Amazon, Uber, Salesforce, and Cisco are the latest companies to promise compensation to some hourly and gig workers whose jobs have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Microsoft started the trend last week when it announced that it would continue paying vendors who work hourly jobs.
  • Google, Facebook, and Twitter were next to follow suit, saying they would keep paying hourly workers even as staffing needs declined, first reported on Thursday by Axios and confirmed to Business Insider.
  • The coronavirus outbreak has led many companies adopt remote work policies, raising concerns about the wages of food service, janitorial, and contingent workers whose hours might be reduced.
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Amazon, Uber, Salesforce, and Cisco are among a growing chorus of companies making plans to financially support certain hourly and gig workers whose jobs have been impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Amazon said Friday that it would keep paying hourly workers who support its offices in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington, while workers are asked to work from home, in addition to subsidizing one month’s rent for small businesses that operate within Amazon-owned buildings in those locations.

Amazon has been criticised, however, for being slower to offer guidance and support to workers who can’t do their jobs from home. On Monday, it finally announced that warehouse workers wouldn’t be penalised for taking unpaid time off, while last week Amazon contacted its vast network of contracted truck drivers, telling those feeling ill to stay home after Business Insider reported that drivers hadn’t heard from the company.

Gig workers are dealing with unique challenges, leaving delivery companies scrambling to respond. Uber, after facing pressure from lawmakers, announced Friday that it would compensate drivers who are placed under mandatory quarantine or diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, for up to 14 days.

As the coronavirus has spread throughout the Bay Area and Seattle, many tech companies have also restricted employee travel and implementing work-from-home policies, leaving massive office buildings largely empty, and raising concerns about the fate of food service, janitorial, administrative, security and other hourly workers who will likely see their hours reduced as a result.

In response, Microsoft announced Thursday that it would continue to pay hourly workers in affected regions even if conditions leave them unable to come into the office, leading other companies to follow suit.

Google, Facebook, and Twitter said they will continue to pay hourly workers even if remote work policies and office closures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak reduce staffing needs,Axios reported on Thursday evening. On Friday, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff both tweeted that their companies would follow a similar policy.

“Facebook will pay contingent workers that cannot work due to reduced staffing requirements during voluntary work from home, when we close an office, when we choose to send an employee home, or when they are sick,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider.

Google has similar plans, including continuing to pay hourly workers as well as temporary employees, vendors, and contractors – which the company refers to as TVCs – independent of any reduced staffing needs surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider.

A Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider: “For contractors and hourly workers who are not able to perform their responsibilities from home, Twitter will continue to pay their labour costs to cover standard working hours while Twitter’s WFH guidance and/or travel restrictions related to their assigned office are in effect.”

Twitter also said it will reimburse workers for expenses related to setting up their home office and that it’s working with outside vendors to make sure its contractors’ remote work needs are met.

Cisco gave its support to affected service workers: “As our communities face the issues around COVID-19, @Cisco will always stand with our teams. Thank you to all of the hourly workers who support us every day and rest assured we will continue to pay you your regular wages as we work through the latest developments,” Robbins, the CEO, tweeted.

Salesforce echoed that message to its workers: “Our hearts go out to all affected by COVID-19. I am grateful for the teams monitoring the situation around the clock & ensuring the health & safety of our Ohana. We will continue to pay our hourly employees, who are such an important part of our family,” Benioff tweeted.

In the past week, some companies have even started facing coronavirus cases among their own workforces, particularly in the Seattle area.

Last Wednesday, a Facebook contractor and an Amazon employee, both in the Seattle area, tested positive for COVID-19, while Google halted international travel after an employee in its Zurich office was confirmed to have the disease.

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