An employee takes stock of stacked products at an Amazon warehouse in Bangalore. Photo: AFP

The ongoing second wave of Covid-19 in India is proving to be a major challenge for e-commerce companies.

On one hand, orders are rising as people are wary of stepping out, but companies are also facing manpower shortages from their delivery staff contracting the virus or them taking time off to tend to infected family members.

Many companies have taken the initiative to vaccinate their delivery personnel and provide financial assistance to infected staff. The latest to do so was Amazon India, which launched a Covid-19 Relief Scheme for its frontline teams hired through staffing agencies, plus other eligible employees, the Press Trust of India reported.

Under the scheme, the beneficiaries are provided with a Covid-19 allowance and additional hospital reimbursement. The allowance is a one-time grant per employee of 30,600 rupees (US$420) for in-house Covid care, medical equipment or medication-related expenses.

If employees exceed their maximum insurance cover due to hospitalization expenses, Amazon India will also reimburse insurance-approved hospital expenses up to 190,000 rupees ($2,605).

The e-commerce giant is promoting on-site vaccination drives for frontline staff and encouraging others to get vaccinated.

Earlier this month, rival Flipkart started its vaccination drive for its frontline workers. It partnered with Manipal Hospitals to conduct a drive for Flipkart and Myntra frontline employees in Bangalore and plans to extend to other areas when it receives more vaccine doses.

The Walmart-backed e-commerce giant is conducting specialized sessions, led by experienced practitioners, to address the needs of employees at different levels, including the leadership team, people managers, Covid taskforce and all employees.

Leadership teams across Flipkart have been encouraged to rejig priorities, keeping in mind the number of employees who have been impacted.

In March, Food delivery app Swiggy offered to cover the cost of vaccinating its 200,000 delivery staff and compensate them for any loss of pay on days they received the jabs. It has also been providing loss of pay cover for partners recovering from Covid-19 infections and relief to those who could not come to work due to lockdowns.

This year’s localized lockdowns have proved to be a challenge for e-commerce companies. As there is a lack of uniformity in the rules, they have to plan in a localized way according to the conditions laid down by the respective states.

However, unlike last year, when there was a countrywide lockdown and disruption of supply chains, this time e-commerce logistics have not seen a massive impact. Most companies are hiring more delivery staff to cater to the increased demand.