Amazon Announces End of Paid COVID Leave for U.S. Workers

Las Vegas,Nevada, United States - June 18, 2020: Amazon fulfillment center exterior shot in North Las Vegas Nevada USA .
4kodiak / Getty Images

One of the top perks for COVID-era Amazon workers is coming to an end, as the online retail giant told U.S.-based staff on Saturday that it will end paid time-off for employees with the virus. The policy ends May 2, 2022.

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The shift comes amid greater availability of COVID-19 vaccines and revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Amazon told employees in a message forwarded to Reuters.

Under the new rules, employees in the U.S. will now get five days of excused, unpaid leave following a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

“We can continue to safely adjust to our pre-COVID policies,” Amazon said, citing the fewer COVID cases, the ready availability of vaccines and treatments and new public health guidelines.

The company also said it is halting site-wide notifications of positive cases in its facilities unless they are required by law. It also will end its efforts to encourage vaccination. Amazon has been among the leaders in trying to adapt to the pandemic, even offering $100 bonuses to new hires who show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination.

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The company initially offered up to two weeks of paid time off for workers diagnosed with the virus or placed into quarantine, CNBC reported. In January 2022, Amazon reduced paid leave time to one week, or up to 40 hours.

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Now company watchers will keep an eye on how the end of the paid COVID leave goes over with pro-union workers who want better working conditions and benefits at its warehouses. On April 1, Amazon workers on Staten Island voted to unionize in what the New York Times called “one of the biggest victories for organized labor in a generation.”

But as The Hill reported on Monday, the National Labor Relations Board has granted Amazon a hearing over the retailer’s claims that the landmark union vote was improperly carried out.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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