Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon has begrudgingly rolled out safety measures, seemingly more in response to negative media attention than concern for their workers. Those social distancing measures thankfully now include trusting associates to record their own work hours.
Anecdotally, some warehouses had attempted to implement staggered shifts, to mixed success. Apparently those methods were deemed insufficient. Amazon confirmed to Gizmodo today that clock-in and clock-out functionality had been added to its A-to-Z app and website, a sort of internal scheduling-and-bulletin board suite.
Unconfirmed reports on Reddit from Amazon workers claim some facilities may have received the feature as much as two weeks ago, while others appear to have been notified of the change today.
Amazon began implementing preventative measures for its white-collar workers are far back as January, limiting travel and moving job interviews from in-person conversations to virtual ones. Meanwhile, temperature checks for warehouse associates were not implemented until early April, and as a direct result of a series of strikes at locations in New York, Chicago, and Detroit—at least one of which culminated in the firing of, and proposed smear campaign against, strike organizer Chris Smalls.
There are at least 81 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Amazon’s facilities, a number that seems all but destined to increase as the virus works its way toward the middle of the country from current hotspots on the coasts. Despite this, Amazon has reportedly been largely unwilling to close its facilities or expediently inform the others workers at a warehouse when a case is discovered there.
Allowing associates to clock in or out on their phones is at least a step in the right direction—although most warehouses don’t allow phone use inside the building, and it’s unclear how that directive might interfere with the use of this new system. Still, workers are worried about how it might be used to assert more control by management. “You can likely submit it anywhere, but advisable that you only do it within the building,” one Redditor wrote. “Cameras are being watched heavily now.”