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.
It’s a good PR move for them. I mean everyone knows harbor freight means cheap things shipped from china at the lowest prices possible.
So what’s the one place almost certainly to be infected with Chinese air – HF.
Now I say this tongue in cheek a bit since there are not people talking about not popping bubble wrap because it has Chinese air in it and we’ll all get coronavirus.
Again though great PR move for them. In a time when they are trying to demonstrate a desire to be more than cheap crap from china.
I think this is more than a PR stunt. I wish more companies with hourly employees made this kind of a statement. It shows they care about their employees and that the public can be reassured they do their best to disinfect their shopping environment.
The comment about popping bubble wrap shows how clueless people are about viruses . A virus cannot survive more than a few hours on an inanimate object whether that is in a bubble wrap or on the handle of a drill. It needs a host organism (like a person) to survive. BTW both the CDC and World Health Organization are excellent sources of information about the Coronavirus outbreak.
Harbor Freight has a lot of stores. That means a lot of customers and a lot of workers, and it’s important to know they care about the health and safety of both.
There have been conflicting reports, with media stories about the virus being able to survive on inorganic surfaces for days. But generally, you need droplets – bodily fluid – for transfer.
The lack of consistency is concerning. One day “it’s far more contagious than the flu.” The next day, “it’s almost as contagious as the flu.”
A clarification from CDC website: It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.
Actually the virus can remain active for up to 16 hours on hard plastics, for example the caps on soda bottles and water bottles; 3 days on steel and cardboard, which is absolutely scary if you think about that.
I read in a news story that there are several postal workers from a handful of states in the u.s. who have tested positive for the virus , but yet the CDC stated they do not believe the virus can be contracted via the mail system and went on to say that the public need not be worried about handling their delivered letters or packages that came through the mail…
Then further into the report, about 3 or 4 paragraphs down the CDC listed the amount of time the virus stays active on certain types of materials, listing cardboard as 3 days.
And yet they don’t think the postal workers from different places across our country, that have COVID-19 , could have possibly gotten it from handling, let’s see here, maybe CARDBOARD PACKAGES they delivered?!? It’s like the people who are supposed to be the smartest, have no brains.
their supply chain has probably taken one heck of a beat down
It is only right . A computer scientist calculated we will be on lock down like Italy in just over 2 weeks. The death rate is much higher than the flu because no one has antibodies to it unlike the seasonal flu.
Epidemics do not normally subside until 70 percent of the population has been infected and has antibodies to it or 70 percent of the population is vaccinated. No vaccine until December? With Chinese testing expediting it.
I am hoping by late April they will approve two previous anti viral drugs for hospital use in the meanwhile.
Again masks reduce viral load by 5/6 but you must tightly fit it and you can never touch the fabric only the straps once used.
Good on HB.
Now. Where’s WalMart and HD et al in this scenario?
And of course “we” are the only First World country without national health care, Let alone mandatory paid sick days so no hourly worker can easily afford not to go to work let alone get a “doctors” recommendation to stay home.
Many if not most don’t even have have a personal doctor.
This is also going to impact willful deniers far worse then we as a nation are prepared for.
Too much recent intentional defunding of health related services and our well documented lack of decent health care for our lowest income and most frail citizens isn’t looking too pretty.
End of the obvious observations.
We could afford national healthcare if we:
1. didn’t spend so much on defense
2.didn’t have millions of non-taxpaying non-citizens freeloading on our healthcare system.
On top of that, our poorest citizens are even poorer because they have to compete with those non-citizens for wages. Nobody benefits more from open borders than our plutocratic top 0.1%ers, who would love to let everyone in. That same plutocracy spends hundreds of millions on open border advocacy.
this conversation degenerated into a rant pretty quickly
We are the only one without national system because we have 87 trillion in unfunded liabilities ie. social security medicare, Medicaid , pensions , military commitments etc. This does not count the annual budget deficit.
We also do not have set number of people as our population not counting newborns grows daily. So the pie gets sliced into more pieces daily.
Go to the Daily Mail (uk) and see how Italy is not just not ventilating but not even treating at all those over age 65 since hospital are running 200 percent over capacity. Read the Daily Mail stories where the UK. National Health Service does not do colonoscopies if you are under 50 or Pap tests under 30 and read how many heart wrenching stories of many people dying needlessly.
Daughter is a surgical resident and we do not have anywhere near enough doctors in country. ..Accordingly, there are not enough slots for 50 to 100 acting interns in each specialty not counting foreign med school grads.
Medicare pays for and caps the number of residents each year. 51k with a $500 bump each year where P.A.s from same med.schools make 80 k upon graduation.
Their salaries have not increased in 20 years and the federal loan program in medical school up until June 2019 charges the 7 percent interest on med/grad school loans which is many times the prime rate (unsubsidized Stafford loans).
loans above 40 k annual were.State.programs running 11 percent. This is way many kids do not want to be doctors with med school running up to 300 k after 4 years and salaries capped until age 32-34.
I strongly urge everyone to never, ever, take any notice of the Daily Heil. This is after all a ‘news’ paper that supposed Hitler and has never apologized. They have a long and dishonourable history of lies, fakery, racism, bluster and general nastiness.
Check out prostate cancer survival rates in the UK versus the US. I’ll give you a hint, the UK NHS does not do a good job. Check out the “Liverpool Pathway” for an example of the NHS and involuntary euthanasia.
You can call the Daily Mail names if it makes you feel better, but it still doesn’t change the fact that they have a point. Whether free market or nationalized, these healthcare systems are broken, and broken for the same reasons. Too many freeloaders at the bottom (non-citizens) and the top (globalist plutocracy).
I suspect this is partly why the virus has killed so many elderly in places such as China and Italy (aside from the fact that elderly tend to have weaker immune systems) because their governments really don’t want to keep spending excessive resources on people that are unlikely to be productive to society anymore. Especially in place like China that has a massive population. I doubt they were in any sort of rush to nip this in the bud until the population started demanding more of a government response. China isn’t exactly the beacon of human rights and value of human life.
All this means is that HF is able to pass on the cost of doing business (sick time and all) to the customer. That is the case for any business that providing health care and sick leave. They pass it on to the customer. If we had a national health care, then the tax payer would pay for it. Not opposed to it. Just think people should be aware that it isn’t free.
Nothing’s “free” in life. Agreed.
But healthcare should be a basic right like a decent education, roads, public safety and other decent life expectations. Not for profit.
Koko the Talking Ape
That’s true, HF will probably pass on the costs of sick time to customers. But we also benefit from HF encouraging sick workers to stay home, instead of coming to work and infecting their coworkers. All hourly workers should have sick time.
And incidentally, some kind of national health care would almost certainly be cheaper OVERALL than our current plan., by as much as half. We would pay for it, as you say, but we would pay less. I can give details if you like (I studied health care in public policy school. 🙂
No details needed. No where in my comments did I suggest that I was against it. Only that people should be aware who is going to pay for it. It will happen. Just a matter of how to pay for it. I personally think a national sales tax would be best. But, way beyond my pay scale and I will never seek to have that responsibility.
Koko the Talking Ape
And I didn’t say you were against it!
Yes, people will pay for it, but they will pay less than they are paying now. That is virtually certain.
(Also, nobody is actually proposing “free” health care, not even Bernie. That’s kind of a straw man.)
As you suggest, sales taxes are a possibility, but they tend to be regressive (a bigger relative burden for poorer people.) And if employers are suddenly freed from paying insurance benefits, they might just take the savings as profits instead of increasing worker salaries (which they would need to pay the increased sales taxes.)
One good option I heard was to open Medicare and Medicaid to everybody, but paid, as if it were a private insurance company. So employers and individuals would continue to pay for health insurance just as they are now, but M&M would be cheaper, so gradually people would move into it, which would further lower costs, until the private insurors are covering only the wealthy. Poor and unemployed people would pay nothing, and would be covered by the greater efficiency in a public plan. A few other countries have something like that.
Their prices are already going up.
Example: their $15 Drill Master 4-1/2″ angle grinder that’s usually on sale for $10 , this week I seen the sale price is up $2.
Harbor Freight has a pretty generous PTO and sick time benefit that applies to even part time employees. It is a system already in place, although if an associate does not have time available, I’m sure they will just “front” them the time off to be debited later. My wife works for HF and she accrues PTO rather quickly depending on the hours she puts in.
If they are already doing this and their prices are still pretty reasonable, I’d say Kudo’s to Harbor Freight for looking after their employees. My employer basically addressed this by emailing a flyer from the CDC, encouraging us to get flu shots as nd wash our hands. Good luck if you get sick because time off requests will be rejected as usual. I can’t even beg for time off.
So yeah, HF is taking the responsible route here.
I work at HF and we get paid for things that are out of our hand. I.E when an unforeseen event such as Harvey flooded the highways and associates couldn’t get to work because of flood they were compensated. HF provides PTO and Sick time off, Paid holidays, Health, dental, vision, 401K and many more. Which I have a privilege of receiving. As well as commission. HF treats associates with respect and dignity. So hearing this is not a surprise that they’d pay associates affected by this virus. God bless America and stay safe everybody.
not to get political but how is healthcare, roads, education and etc rights? Doesn’t sound like the bill of rights I learned.
I mean I suppose one could extend the 9th amendment but that gets into a big discussion on intent and other things.
Koko the Talking Ape
We have rights because we declared we have rights. That’s all. We did that in the Bill of Rights, but nothing prevents us from creating new rights in other amendments, or through laws or court cases.
For example, we have a constitutional right to privacy, but that’s not stated anywhere in the Constitution or any amendments. It was created by case law (in Griswold v. Connecticut, among others.) We have a right to a lot of government records and information, but that was created by statute, namely the Freedom of Information Act. (I was a lawyer about 20 years ago.)
We can lose rights too.
It seems pretty essential to the whole “promote the General Welfare” idea that’s captured in the first sentence of the Constitution, but that’s just me. The fact that we’ve let partisanship and bickering screw up the system based on the exact enumerations of an almost 250 year old document instead of reasonably adapting to sensible modern rights based on the framework and ideals of said document is borderline criminal. Instead of a government of, for, and by the people we’ve allowed and even supported a system of the wealthy, for the corporations, and by the politicians. Hopefully somewhere down the line this country will get back on track and future generations will be able to look back on us with scorn and judgement. It will surely be deserved.
i kind of like having roads, but maybe that’s just me.
Yeah because without government you’d never have roads. No one would ever have access of these mystical techniques of paving and having access from one place to another….
Since this has become a political discussion, this is my thought:
Medicare for all who want it. (I think Mayor Pete copied me there)
People getting Medicare pay for it. Apparently not enough for doctors and hospitals to make a fair profit. Let’s get actuaries from all parts of the spectrum, Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, pundits, reporters, etc. to determine what a fair monthly cost should be. Maybe $249/month, maybe $329/month. I don’t know. Children go to doctors too, so if you have 3 kids, pay for each of them. If you have none, you don’t have to pay for them. Have Medicare cover everything other than cosmetic surgery. (Allowances for reconstructive surgery after breast cancer, perhaps, and nose jobs for breathing issues. Perhaps other things. I’m not a doctor.) A small co-pay, perhaps $20, to keep bored people from going to the doctor, seems reasonable. Raise the payroll tax by maybe 0.25% every year to keep the cash flowing fast enough. No deductibles, minimal paperwork. The paperwork reduction alone will probably save $billions.
The truly poor will get subsidies if these cost are still too high.
I have been responsible for our (my wife and I) premiums, and they run more than $1400/month plus a $12000 ($6000 each) deductible, so $329/month each would be a bargain.
I also think once you’re a “senior”, having to figure out which Medicare option to pick shouldn’t require a complicated spreadsheet. Medicare Advantage, Medigap. It’s crazy.
Thanks for allowing my rant.
It kind of takes a pandemic crises like this to point out that if ALL people in this country had access to health care we ALL would be better off. People with inadequate health care will continue to contract and spread corona virus and have no recourse.
South Korea had undergone a program of widespread testing and it seems they may have turned a corner. They even had in car testing available to people! If you have a person show up in an emergency room today you can shut down the emergency room and forced medical staff to quarantine.
King Edward the 8th supported Hitler that is why they forced him out when he wanted to marry Simpson. So did JFK’s father and Henry Ford. 8 of the Top Nazi rocket Scientist s including Werner von Braun created our space program to allow us to land on the moon.
The pictures of Italians on their stomachs on ventilators are not faked. They found it is better to rest patients lungs. The stories of the 20 something year old girls with stage 4 uterine cancer appear genuine since there is no obvious percentage to lying.
I had a good private health plan which I had to give up for Medicare. I had to still keep it for my wife . Part A (hospital) is free from Gov but B.
(Doctor) costs at least $ 130 a month plus D for drugs is extra also. I paintwork for drugs now.
Who is going to pay for this free lunch?
As I explained we owe 87 trillion under funded liabilities will come due . I think it includes the 22 trillion deficit. Nobody bought or bid on our 30 year Gov bonds this week because bond market dropped with the stock market. Wait until.China stops buying our bonds on boy.
Finally we are desperately short doctors. 60 year old doctors are retiring due to all the increased paper work which takes half their time. Bureaucracy.
We need to import more doctors
I’m 35. I considered medical school until I realized I’m far too stupid to go to college and the possibility of leaving with half a million dollars in student loan debt. That’s a serious problem that lots and lots and lots of young adults think about.
“We need to import more doctors”
That’s not gonna happen now, especially with other nations realizing what kind of strategic asset they are.
They only way forward is start training from within.
1. End the student loan racket by making them once again subject to default. People won’t be able to get loans for degrees in worthless subjects, but they will for real subjects like medicine.
2. Cut out ridiculous defense spending boondoggles like the f35. Put the people in those factories to work building medical equipment instead.
3. Take the money saved on defense, and use it to subsidize healthcare education.
4. Subsidize domestic pharmaceutical production, with mandated formulary prices a key stipulation for subsidy.
5. Exercise eminent domain over key medical patents.
6. Absolute upfront pricing transparency. All procedures and costs immediately posted to national price registry upon completion.
More doctors, nurses, specialists and equipment. Cheaper and more secure drug supply.
Let’s get back to tool reviews and tool discussions instead of this [email protected]
A lot of people care about Harbor Freight and the measures they are taking to create as safe and healthy a shopping environment as possible. It’s relevant industry news.
If you don’t like it, skip the headline. Browse our post archives.
Here’s 2017: https://toolguyd.com/2017/
I’ve been sick since Saturday night (virus: sore throat, high fever, strep and flu tests were negative) and am partially recovered but probably won’t pick up any tools until tomorrow afternoon or maybe even Thursday.
You misunderstood me. Read the crap in many posts above. Again, tools, reviews, tool discussions. Leave nonsense medicare, political crap at the door.
Ah, I’m sorry, I thought you were referring to the post itself.
Yeah, the comments too very different turns than I had anticipated. It’s my fault, I triggered it with discussion of the paid sick time for hourly workers, and figured if the discussion didn’t quiet down by tonight I’d let everyone say their piece and shut down the comments in the morning.
I do hope you feel better. Having small children guaranties we get sick more often. Been through it plenty.
We all took turns being sick in January and February, but this was all me, either from touching all the handles and keypads at the school or from local shopping, despite using hand sanitizer in the car and washing my hands when I can.
Get well soon, Stuart.
Thanks for letting us mix it up in the comments on this post. I think I’ve had my say on this issue, and I intend on posting regular (ie tool-related) comments from here on out.
Get well soon , Stuart.
Why is this [email protected]?? Unless you are oblivious, this is dominating life in the US today. You could just choose to ignore the topic if you wish.
At least HF has a policy about coronavirus and is stating it. What i find much more troubling is people trying to demonize this outbreak and use if for their own political purposes.
I pay twice the amount for drugs now. (Paywork for drugs is Auto correct.)
Medicare needs to increase residency spots by 20 percent
They need to increase salaries equal to PA’s salary of 80k.
Breast reconstruction post cancer surgery is mandated by federal law now.
Residencies last 4 to 7 years plus 1 to 2 years of fellowship before no salary caps.
Neurosurgeons must do a 7 year residency.
Ok, while this is a good policy and good PR for HF, let me be the one to ask the obvious question.
What’s to stop any employee from just lying about potentially being exposed or having symptoms in order to not work and still get paid? This begs the question of whether HF is going to require employees to get a doctor’s note or some other evidence beyond their own say-so in order to be compensated for missing work.
I’m also wondering what’s the situation with their supply of merchandise and manufacturing of products yet to be shipped. I guess they aren’t going to release any statements about that until it’s visually obvious in the stores, or maybe they have warehouses full of stuff and plently to get through the coming months?
As mentioned, I think a doctor’s note would probably be required, just like schools require doctor’s notes for kids to return after certain illnesses or infections.
May I address the HF image?
As “we” frequently discuss Chinesium no name tools v. US made brands like Klein perhaps only a HF with mostly direct import house branded stock can even afford to offer their employees COVID-19 leave time?
HD etc. etc. mostly buy at wholesale and must remain competitive with many other similar retailers. HF does not.
So how do “we” all feel about their seeming largess now?
Mike (the other one)
There is no way HF lineman pliers are better than Klein. That said, I might get a pair of HF pliers to be a loaner tool.
Sorry, that’s the only in-store image I had in the media library. There are more in my phone, but I opted for the “quick and easy, it’s good enough” route.
Hope you feel better, Stuart.
I’m going to China Freight, oops I meant Harbor Freight right after work today. I’ll lick the tops of all the roll away tool chests to see if the place taste any germier than the last time I was there.
PR “stunt” or otherwise, it is a good move for workers and the rest of us who might wander into an HF or other competing retailer’s store who will now need to consider their own policies.
Sometimes, policy changes that are good ideas for workers only come about due to public relations, and this is a good thing about our free(ish) market system.
When was the last time government got involved in anything and it got cheaper or better?
And yes heathcare is not a right. Its a privilege. Just like driving or air conditioning or two-ply TP. Just because you want something doesn’t mean you can just say its a right.
The universal healthcare provided in UK (for example) is not as good as the USA. Look at objective survivability from diseases NOT subjective polls on customer satisfaction. Where alot of this misleading information has come from. Here is an example: Just because you FEEL your health care is great and you give it a 10 in a survey but you still die from a treatable disease doesn’t mean your socialized healthcare actually is better. On top of that tax rate is substantialy higher in these countries. Now that a massive population shift has happened lets see if these bloated ineffective government policies survive. Crappy service for more money. Sums up alot of big government.
As to HF. It is a free enterprise. If the owner feels cleaning the stores and keeping sick employees home will encourage sales and the revenue stream will offset the costs of said policy, good for them. Or it could be the owner of HF (one of those terrible one percenters) has decided that less profit this month is OK if his employees and the general public benefit, at his financial expense, in a time of need. Personally I think its a good stop gap in the face of unexpected, hopefully, short term set backs. From what I understand the founder is a generous guy. Nice guy or not the free market will decide if this is a beneficial policy or not. I suspect it is a good idea.
Alls I can say is MILWAUKEE please come out with a 23 gauge cordless pin nailer! I NEED THAT!
This isn’t really the best place for such a request.
Try this post – https://toolguyd.com/milwaukee-m18-cordless-air-compressor-predictions/
I was at Harbor Freight (ny) for over an hour yesterday. There was 3 other customers, without counting people that only came up to the doorway to ask if there was any dust masks in stock.
Here’s the actual thumbnail picture:
The one I work at the coworkers are good people but the equipment is all shot; the conveyer used to unload truck tied with bungee cord and propped up with wood, all the carts used to haul merchandise missing handles or wheels. Store looks fine from the front but seeing how it works on the inside I’m worried about going back to work (was out with an injury right before the virus took off). If the policy is to use broken equipment under normal circumstances I’m not too happy about my chances of them taking any extra precautions.
They sell fairly inexpensive tools though so there is that!
Everyone be safe out there, hope this crisis passes soon.