How Costco Is Really Treating Their Employees During The Pandemic

As COVID-19 has swept across the United States, grocery store workers have found themselves on the frontline of the pandemic as shoppers have flooded into stores to buy up supplies. Understandably, this makes working at a megastore like Costco pretty stressful for its employees. "It's been exhausting," a Utah Costco employee told Business Insider before adding, "I've never seen our shelves, our stocks, so bare before."

The "exhausting" work demands of Costco employees have come at a cost with numerous employees being infected with the virus and even dying from it (via Fox Business). As for how Costco has treated its thousands of employees amid the pandemic, well, that really depends on where you get your information. Per Costco's website, the company simply says that its committed to the "health and safety" of its employees, but doesn't go into much more detail. Costco mentions that they've asked employees to practice social distancing as well and "increased our protocols in sanitizing surfaces" but that's about it. 

Employees got a temporary pay raise of $2

Like many essential businesses, Costco has put into place a temporary wage increase for its employees. The company announced that all hourly employees would be compensated an extra $2 per hour for all hours worked between March 2 and April 5 (via Business Insider). The employees were told they'd be given the extra money in a lump sum with their April 17 paycheck. 

In regards to paid time off, while Business Insider did report that employees over 65 were given two weeks paid leave, other employees were required to show proof of a positive COVID-19 test or other medical condition. So far, an online petition asking that all Costco employees be given PTO has racked up nearly 7,300 signatures.

Most of the company's corporate employees have been moved to working remotely. 

Some employees are unhappy with how Costco has handled the crisis

As for the opinions of the Costco employees who are keeping the stores up and running — those have been pretty bleak. Buzzfeed News spoke with several employees who had scathing things to say about Costco's handling of the crisis and employee treatment.

One Los Angeles employee called working there during the pandemic a "living nightmare" and said employees "were never prepared for this." Other employees said the company didn't do enough to prep them for the flood of customers, was slow to sanitize stores, and in some cases, failed to notify them of infected coworkers. "They were reactionary the entire time instead of taking the opportunity to be a leader in the industry," a Michigan Costco manager said.

Costco has provided employees with gloves, face masks, implemented customer limits in stores, and put up protective shields at cash registers. At the same time, a supervisor at a California Costco said wearing masks hasn't been a requirement and that employees are "sharing gloves." Meanwhile, Costco made $1.5 billion more in March than it did the same month in 2019 (via MarketWatch).