In line with parent company Amazon, Whole Foods Market is giving hourly employees another $2 per hour through next month for their extra efforts in serving customers during the coronavirus crisis.
Whole Foods said yesterday that all part- and full-time hourly associates at stores and facilities in the United States and Canada will now receive an additional $2 an hour on top of their current rate until the end of April. In the United Kingdom, part- and full-time hourly staff at Whole Foods will get an extra £2 per hour over the same time period.
Amazon announced the measure on Tuesday for the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and European Union countries. Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods currently operates 487 stores in the U.S., 14 in Canada and seven in the U.K.
“As a grocer, we believe serving customers and the community during this time is essential. Today, Amazon announced that they are providing hourly employees with an additional $2 per hour through the end of April,” Whole Foods said in a statement. “We are joining Amazon in this measure.”
Also on Tuesday, Whole Foods said it’s making some temporary changes in its prepared foods and self-service areas and restaurants to help thwart the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Hot bars, salad bars, soup bars and self-serve pizza areas will be closed, as will self-serve offerings in additional departments, including antipasti and olive bars, acai machines and poke bowls.
In addition, seated restaurant venues and taprooms will close for in-store dining and offer takeout only. Indoor and outdoor café seating also will be temporarily unavailable.
“This process will be complete across stores in the U.S., Canada and U.K. by Wednesday, March 18. All stores will continue to offer an expanded selection of prepackaged items and full-service chef case offerings,” Whole Foods stated.
Amazon unveiled the wage bonus yesterday in announcing 100,000 new full and part-time U.S. jobs across its fulfillment centers and delivery network to meet the surge in demand from people relying on its online service to avoid going to stores and potential exposing themselves to coronavirus infection, “particularly those most vulnerable to being out in public,” the Seattle-based e-tail giant said.
“We also know many people have been economically impacted as jobs in areas like hospitality, restaurants and travel are lost or furloughed as part of this crisis,” Amazon stated. “We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back.”
Amazon reported that the increased pay through the end of April represents an investment of more than $350 million for hourly employees across the U.S., Europe, and Canada.
“We want to recognize our employees who are playing an essential role for people at a time when many of the services that might normally be there to support them are closed,” Amazon commented. “In the U.S., we will be adding an additional $2 per hour worked through April from our current rate of $15/hour or more, depending on the region, $2 in Canada, £2 per hour in the U.K., and approximately €2 per hour in many EU countries.”
On Wednesday, Amazon also announced that essential items and other high-demand items related to the coronavirus situation would receive priority in distribution and shipping.
“We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one, and we want to make sure our customers can get the items they need, when they need them. As COVID-19 has spread, we’ve recently seen an increase in people shopping online which has had an impact on how we serve our customers,” Amazon explained. “So in the short term, we are making the decision to temporarily prioritize household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so we can more quickly receive, restock and ship these products to customers. We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability of these essential products and continue to bring on additional capacity to deliver customer orders.”
Prime Now, AmazonFresh, and Whole Foods delivery customers can select the “unattended delivery” option during checkout if they prefer not to come into contact with others. Orders excluding alcohol are eligible for unattended delivery and will be left in a location designated by the customer.
“We’re also working to ensure that no one artificially raises prices on basic need products during this pandemic and have blocked or removed tens of thousands of items, in line with our longstanding policy,” Amazon added. “We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policy.”
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