Amazon lifts new ban on phones in warehouses ‘until further notice’

Amazon is losing control of employee activities as security concerns mount. The internet retailer has confirmed to Bloomberg that it will withdraw a renewed effort to ban personal phones in warehouses. Staff were told on December 17 to keep their phones on hand “until further notice.”

The company banned phones in warehouses for years, but eased its approach when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The ban would resume in January 2022.

Although Amazon has not explained the decision, it comes just after a tornado hit a warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, killing six people. It also follows an increase in COVID-19 cases. Warehouse workers have demanded access to their phones, both for security alerts and to keep in touch in an emergency. A reintroduced ban would have been deaf, especially in light of an incident where a dispatcher pressured a driver to keep delivering packages as a tornado swept through the Edwardsville area.

Companies are allowed to ban telephone use on the clock, whether it is to improve security or to prevent personnel from leaking sensitive information. That attitude is changing as smartphones become an important part of everyday life, and the combination of Amazon’s poor security reputation with recent incidents may leave little room for the company to re-ban — not without significant public backlash.

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