General Motors has agreed to pay its workers for up to 14 days if they are forced to self-quarantine once the automaker’s U.S. assembly plants come back online.
The UAW had previously laid out a number of requirements for the Big Three for when the union returns to work, which included paying workers if they were forced into quarantine because they had contracted the virus, or come in close contact with someone who had. If workers were not promised pay while quarantining, they may be apprehensive to report symptoms to their superiors, which could lead to more transmission within UAW production facilities.
In a statement released this week, GM spokesman Jim Cain said “significant planning is underway to safely restart production,” at the automaker’s U.S. plants.
“We are in regular contact with federal, state, and local authorities, our suppliers, the UAW, and our manufacturing team. We have not yet announced a restart date. When people do return to work, whether for planning or for regular production, we will use screening, cleaning, and social distancing strategies designed using the best medical advice and scientific data available, including guidance from the CDC,” Cain said.
The automaker will also use “contact tracing” to help identify workers who may have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19, a process that includes interviewing employees to determine who they may have spread the virus to.
“Contact tracing is the process by which a medical provider interviews a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to determine who they came in close contact during the 48 hours before symptoms developed,” the automaker explained. “Direct contacts are colleagues, social contacts and fellow employees who may have shared an environment for prolonged periods of time and have frequently come within 3 feet of each other without a mask.”
Other safety protocols that will likely be used by GM, Ford and FCA when employees return to work include having them fill out medical screening questionnaires, taking their temperature when they arrive on-site and requiring them to wear PPE such as face masks and gloves. Workspaces and employee common areas will also be frequently sanitized.
It’s not clear when the Big Three plan to return to work at this time. A notice sent out to employees in April indicated GM is “actively working on safety protocols to restart operations when the time is right,” though some plants may come back online late this month.