Harbor Freight sent out an email to newsletter subscribers yesterday, detailing their response to the evolving coronovirus (COVID-19) situation.
Basically, the two takeaways are that 1) they are increasing disinfectant efforts throughout each store of often-touched surfaces, and 2) they declared that “impacted associates will be compensated for their missed work hours.”
So far, there are no reports of any Harbor Freight store associates contracting COVID-19.
Why is this important? First, “greatly expanded” sanitization efforts can help cut down on customer-to-customer transmission. Personal hygiene practices are still essential – sanitize or wash your hands and don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
As for compensating workers for missed hours, that’s a big deal.
Years ago, I worked at a supermarket, and then a college dining hall. If I was sick, I stayed home. If I stayed home, I lost hours. If I lost hours, I didn’t earn money.
But, I was a minor when I worked at the supermarket, and a college student when I worked at the dining hall, and so I wasn’t quite working to support myself or a family. Some of my coworkers were working to support themselves or others.
If you’re working on an hourly wage anywhere, as opposed to a fixed salary with paid sick days and vacation days, you’re going to want to work if and when possible. I don’t remember seeing sick coworkers – my retail and food service experiences were all 16-20 years ago – but I have seen a couple of retail workers in recent years who probably shouldn’t have come in to work.
In recent years, I’ve seen a couple of incidents at my kids’ daycare and preschool where I was dropping off my kids and the teachers were calling parents to pick up sick kids. They have a fever policy that mirrors the local school system where you can’t send a child in with a fever and that they must be fever-free for 24 hours before returning.
A parent once – and seemingly knowingly – sent their child in with a stomach bug and infected my daughter, one of the teachers, and half the class. I’m particularly mad about that incident because I had to throw out my favorite living room chair. I love my Bissell carpet and upholstery cleaner that I bought from Amazon during a promo, and I’ll spare you the details, but it just couldn’t eliminate the smell.
There are reports that the new coronavirus can range in how affects you, with mild cases exhibiting a slight cough to serious cases that require hospitalization.
How many retail workers would take a cut in hours for a slight cough? A slight cough and a mild fever?
Workers would presumably need a doctor’s note to be compensated for lost hours.
This is a good thing, that Harbor Freight will be compensating coronavirus-stricken workers for missed hours. Right now, this doesn’t apply to anybody, since they are reporting zero associates are affected, but that could change as things progress.
If a sick worker stays home to recover, that’s one less avenue for transmission.
Now, the question is whether this type of policy might eventually apply to other illnesses, such as the flu, but that would likely require industry-wide legislation.
Here is the full message:
As communities begin to feel the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), I want to share with you the steps we’re taking at Harbor Freight Tools to help protect the health and safety of our customers and associates, which is always our top priority.
We’re closely monitoring local and national reports on the evolving impact of COVID-19 and, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization and applicable public health agencies, we’ve developed plans and established a task force that will allow us to respond timely and appropriately.
Our housekeeping and sanitization efforts in our stores have been greatly expanded. We’re frequently disinfecting often-touched surfaces such as door handles, countertops, keypads, restroom surfaces, shopping carts and baskets. We’re asking all of our associates (and we urge everyone) to follow the CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of the infection.
We feel deeply for those who have been affected. Thankfully, as of now, we’re not aware of any associate contracting COVID-19. But we have implemented guidelines that instruct any associate who may develop symptoms or come into contact with infected individuals to stay home and follow the CDC’s instructions. And impacted associates will be compensated for their missed work hours.
At this time, all of our stores are open for business during their regular hours to meet the needs of our customers. If we become aware of any condition in any store that would make it unsafe, please rest assured that we’ll close the store until those conditions have been addressed.
Again, the health and safety of our customers and associates are our top priority and we’re committed to doing our part to help keep you safe.