Amazon Terminates Paid COVID-19 Paid Leave Policy for Workers in the US

Giant online retailer Amazon.com will end its paid time-off policy for employees with COVID-19 from May 2, the company told US-based staff on Saturday.

The change follows the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and revised guidance from the USA’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, it said.

The US-based staff will now get five days of excused, unpaid leave following a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, Amazon told workers in a message it provided to Reuters.

“We can continue to safely adjust to our pre-COVID policies,” the company said, citing the sustained easing of the pandemic, the availability of vaccines and treatments, and updated public health guidance.

The changes come amid a stream of challenges for Amazon after a recent effort to unionize some warehouses. In April, workers at its warehouse in New York City voted to form the first union.

On Saturday, Amazon said it is halting site-wide notifications of positive cases in facilities, unless required by law, as well as efforts to encourage vaccination.

In January, Amazon trimmed paid leave for workers with the virus to one week, or up to 40 hours. Before that, they got two weeks of paid time off for COVID-19.

Earlier this. year, Amazon told its workers in US that they only have to isolate for a week after testing positive for COVID-19, instead of 10 days, following updated US health guidance.

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has prompted a spike in cases in the United States and worker shortages at schools, airlines and businesses. On January 3, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) backed recent guidance that people who contract the virus can end their isolation after five days.

In a message to staff, which Amazon shared with Reuters, the online retailer said its new week-long isolation policy took effect immediately. Workers with the virus can receive up to 40 hours paid leave, a decrease corresponding to the shorter isolation period.

“Do not come to work if you are sick,” the message said. “Additional leave options are available for individuals who remain symptomatic beyond one week.”

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the news.

With hundreds of thousands of warehouse and logistics staff, Amazon is the second-largest US private employer. Walmart, the largest, this week told workers it was halving its [COVID-19] paid leave in line with the updated CDC guidance.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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