Walmart Slashes Paid Leave in Half After CDC Shifts Rules on COVID Isolation, Quarantine

Associate Cleans Plexiglass Barrier - Walmart.
Wesley Hitt / Walmart

Walmart workers who are required to quarantine because of COVID-19 will have their paid leave cut in half as the world’s largest retailer shifts its business policy to align with new federal guidelines moving into 2022.

Workers who test positive for COVID-19 — or are otherwise told to isolate — will now receive one week of paid time off instead of two, Reuters reported, citing a Jan. 4 memo Walmart sent to hourly store employees and long-haul drivers.

A Walmart spokesperson confirmed the COVID-leave policy change to Reuters, although the retailer has not made any official public announcement. Workers who remain sick can potentially receive additional COVID-related pay for up to 26 weeks, Reuters noted.

A company spokesperson told CNBC that employees qualify for the paid leave regardless of their vaccination status.

Meanwhile, Walmart has asked corporate employees to mainly work from home until Jan. 30. That schedule was pushed back from an planned return to on-site-work date of Jan. 10.

Walmart’s decision came a week after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed its quarantine guidelines. In a Dec. 27 statement, the CDC said people with COVID-19 should now isolate for only five days, and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving, follow that with five days of wearing a mask when around others.

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No media reports have surfaced this week concerning other major employers changing their paid leave policies regarding COVID-19, but that could happen quickly now that Walmart’s policy shift has become public.

As previously reported by GOBankingRates, the entire retail industry has been forced to tweak its business model in the face of store closures and staffing problems. Walmart temporarily closed nearly 60 U.S. stores last month because they were located near COVID-19 hotspots — and this week, Macy’s said it will reduce hours at all of its stores for the remainder of January.

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