While the Coronavirus pandemic keeps halting economies around the globe, the world of shipping and logistics still spins on. As millions of Americans shelter in place, the amount of home deliveries have skyrocketed. This, in turn, has created a huge labor demand for shipping carrier drivers and package delivery employees across the nation. Most logistics employees understand their role to keep supply chains running smoothly and ensure that Americans still receive their goods. However, as more of these workers get sick, many describe unfair pressures that supervisors place on them to keep showing up.
Delivery Employees Weigh In On Their Different Experiences
Despite feeling ill and reporting symptoms to supervisors, many package delivery employees feel intense pressure to keep coming into work.
Angel Duarte, a UPS package handler in Tucson, Arizona, said the following:
“I have been coming in sick because I’m worried that I’ll lose my job or just be punished if I call out. I am 23, and I have no savings, and I have a 4-month-old son.”
Also, part-time FedEx package handler Dan Baker reported working through a sore throat and stomach problems earlier this month. Then he developed a fever. When Baker told his supervisor he needed a day off, his supervisor simply responded by saying how much they needed him to come into work.
Baker took the day off anyway. FedEx then marked his absence as “unexcused,” which resulted in a demerit for him. If a FedEx worker racks up too many demerits, he or she runs the risk of being fired. When asked about it, Baker provided the following quote:
“I went to human resources to ask about it, like, ‘Why was I given an unexcused absence, why’d I get in trouble for this, when there’s a pandemic going on? And they were like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you.’”
Why It’s So Important For Package Delivery Employees to Continue Going to Work During This Time
At the end of the day, it is crucial for carriers to remain fully staffed during this trying time. The shipping and logistics business is what keeps our grocery stores stocked and our pharmacies full of medicine. We need these supply chains to continue to function properly now more than ever. In fact, the government recently deemed all shipping and logistics businesses as essential, and mandated that these businesses must remain operational during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the shipping industry relies on people to get the job done…and these people need to stay healthy. Thus, all of the carriers must strike the achievable balance between staying fully staffed and committing to their employees’ well-being.
To Combat Illness, Shipping Carriers Have Changed How They Collect Signatures Upon Delivery
Despite mounting pressures to keep working, delivery employees do feel some relief that shipping carriers are taking new precautions. To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and maintain social distancing, all the major carriers (including the Postal Service) have now changed their signature confirmation processes.
For example, USPS announced a new process for collecting signatures, which allows letter carriers to deliver parcels totally contactless. In addition, FedEx, UPS and XPO have suspended signature collection altogether. Now, customers no longer need to sign for deliveries, which means no contact between package delivery employees and parcel recipients.
Changes of Contracting Illness From Packages or Mail Is Extremely Low
As confirmed COVID-19 cases keep rising, many worry they will get Coronavirus from touching mail or packages. However, data shows that these fears are unjustified. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, the risk of picking up Coronavirus from the mail and packages remains extremely low. This is due to parcels and mail experiencing transit times longer than the virus can survive without a host. In addition, exposure to different environments and temperature fluctuations also plays a part in keeping the virus off the surface of mail and packages.
In a statement published on March 22nd, the US Postal Service maintained that “The CDC, the World Health Organization, and the Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.”