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Walmart requires associates to wear face masks at work

Walmart told its associates nationwise that beginning Monday, April 20, they will be required to wear masks or other face coverings at work.

In a letter dated April 17, the company said the rule would apply to all employees, including those at stores, clubs, distribution and fulfillment centers and in corporate offices, and that customers and Sam’s Club members would be encouraged to wear face coverings as well.

The letter from John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., and Kath McLay, president and CEO of Sam’s Club, noted that the company’s policy has evolved “from optional to mandatory as public heatlth guidance has shifted.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing face coverings in public settings to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, and while most state and local governments do not mandate their use, Furner and McLay told employees that the CDC has reported that recent studies show a significant portion of individuals with the virus lack symptoms and can transmit it to others.

“With this knowledge, we believe it is simply in everyone’s best interest to use masks or face coverings to curb the spread of this diease,” they wrote.

The letter indicated employees can provide their own face masks as long as they meet certain guidelines, or one will be provided for them as they pass through the associate health screen and temperature check. Furner and McLay went on to state there might need to be exceptions to the policy based on local laws and individual health needs.

On the same day, Donna Morris, executive vice president and chief people officer of Walmart, announced that the company had met its goal of hiring 150,000 new associates.

“I’m pleased to share we reached our goal in less than a month — more than six weeks ahead of schedule,” Morris wrote. “But we can do more. Today, we’re announcing a new commitment to hire an additional 50,000 associates.”

Morris’ letter statead that hiring will be across stores, clubs and fulfillment and distribution centers, and the additional hiring will allow the company to provide staffing in key areas where it’s needed the most. “These hires will primarily be temporary associates and will support our current associates and customers in locations with specific needs,” Morris wrote.

Morris went on to state that beefing up staff will allow current associates the “flexibility” to take time off and stay home if they feel a need to do so. Positions being filled by new hires will include cashiers, stockers and personal shoppers in stores and club and fillers and pickers in distribution centers and fulfillment centers while more drivers will be added to their fleet.

Walmart said it has worked with more than 70 companies that have furloughed workers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many coming from the restaurant and hospitality industries as well as other retailers. Approximately 85 percent of the associates hired are filling temporary or part-time roles, although the company asserted others are expected to convert to permanent roles.

Walmart encourages applicants to visit careers.walmart.com or text “jobs” to 240240.

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