Altice USA is giving premium pay to its customer-interfacing employees during the coronavirus crisis, but not all cable technicians will qualify for the 20% premium on hours worked.
The company on Thursday introduced its premium pay measure for customer-interfacing retail and field service employees. That includes field technicians who are dealing directly with Altice USA cable and broadband customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. It does not include cable technicians who work in network maintenance and construction.
“Currently our premium pay program is for those who are directly interfacing with our customers, however, we continue to review all of our policies and practices on a real-time basis as this pandemic evolves,” said an Altice USA spokesperson in a statement.
Altice USA’s response suggests the parameters for determining which employees get premium pay could change. For now, though, maintenance and construction cable technicians are not included. While those technicians do not make service calls to people’s homes, they do still have some contact with customers and enter buildings (including multiple dwelling units); meeting with landlords, superintendents and contractors; and interact with local police and safety officers.
As of Dec. 31, 2019, Altice USA had about 10,700 employees. The company has about 3.18 million video subscribers.
Other cable operators including Comcast and Charter have implemented varying degrees of premium pay and safety measures to protect their frontline employees.
Comcast has been offering financial incentives to its cable technicians along with putting in place a comprehensive list of safety practices including limiting field technician visits to homes or non-essential businesses and practicing social distancing while interacting with customers.
Still, cable technicians are at risk of exposure to COVID-19. In March, Comcast confirmed that a technician in Fairfield, New Jersey, died after testing positive for COVID-19.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time. He's been a valued member of our Comcast family for 34 years, and he will be deeply missed," a Comcast spokesperson said in a statement.
Charter Spectrum cable technicians have accused the cable operator of not implementing enough safety precautions to protect them from the virus. BuzzFeed News spoke anonymously with two Charter Spectrum technicians who said the cable operator has only instructed employees to wash their hands and maintain a safe distance from customers.