Self-Driving-Car Firm Waymo Sharpens Covid Worker-Safety Rules

Alphabet's Waymo self-driving-car company sharpened its covid-related worker-safety regulations as it ramps up operations, a media report says.
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Waymo, the self-driving-car division of Alphabet  (GOOGL) - Get Report, put in place covid-19 safety protocols for its staff, media reports say.

In an email from Waymo and its contractor Transdev, a transportation company, Waymo drivers and support staff were asked to re-sign on to the updated covid-19 policies, according to CNBC.

The move comes as Waymo begins substantial operations after more than a decade of testing, CNBC reported.

This includes its first fully driverless taxi service open to the public. It’s in Arizona and launched in October, the Verge reported.

The new rules say that the company will pay employees if they need to quarantine and will not pay those who don’t follow safety procedures.

“So far, we have been fortunate to be able to pay everyone during the shelter-in-place period and during mandatory quarantines,” Waymo said in the email. 

At the same time, the company said it couldn't be sure that it could maintain that paycheck policy, "especially if we need to shut down service again.”

The self-driving car-company suspended operations in March when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Other new rules require wearing masks that don’t display logos, slogans or insignia except for those of Transdev or client branding, the email, obtained by CNBC, says. Masks with valves or neck gaiters are also not allowed.

Workers could face up to five days without pay and receive a seven-point performance deduction if rules are violated. If a violation continues, workers will receive an additional deduction and possibly termination.

Waymo said that it would discuss the revised rules with its employees.

Last month, Waymo said that it was partnering with Daimler Trucks to develop fully autonomous trucks.

In June, the company said it was partnering with Volvo VLVLY to develop a self-driving electric vehicle designed for ride hailing.

Volvo will design and produce the vehicles, the companies said, while Waymo will work on artificial intelligence and certain hardware, including cameras, lidar and radar.