UPDATED 00:35 EDT / MARCH 10 2020

2265816229_a7c158ec8a_c POLICY

Amazon tells staff in New York and New Jersey to work from home during coronavirus crisis

Amazon.com Inc. has told its staff in New York and New Jersey that because of coronavirus concerns, they should work at home for the month of March.

That amounts to a lot of staff since Newark, New Jersey, is home to the headquarters of Amazon’s audiobook company, Audible. In New York City Amazon employs thousands of people, including those who work in sales and marketing for Amazon Web Services Inc.

The order follows a slew of tech conferences being canceled and most major tech companies imposing travel bans. Other large tech firms, including Google LLC, Microsoft Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc., have also lately asked employees to work remotely.

“We continue to work closely with public and private medical experts to ensure we are taking the right precautions as the situation continues to evolve,” a spokesperson for Amazon told CNBC Monday. “This includes recommending that employees who are able to work from home in Seattle/Bellevue, the Bay Area, New York, New Jersey and the Lombardy region/Asti province of Italy do so through the end of March.”

As of today, the number of cases of coronavirus in the U.S. has reached 708, with 28 deaths. Scores of new cases have also been reported in Europe. Live updates put the number of infections globally at 114,422, with a total of 4,027 deaths.

Amazon’s warehouses are still open and those workers cannot work from home, but the company told employees on Sunday that it won’t reduce the pay packet of shift workers if they need to take time off during this crisis. The company said the time taken off will not count as “unpaid time” at least during the entire month of March.

Amazon told CNBC that at all its sites, it has intensified cleaning regimes and has asked employees to use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t nearby.The company has also asked employees to clean their work stations regularly. Like Facebook Inc. and Google, Amazon said any job interviews for the meantime will be conducted via conference call. All employees have been advised not to travel if it’s not necessary.

Photo: Robert Scoble/Flickr

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