Amazon ends its Covid-19 paid sick leave policy

By Catherine Thorbecke, CNN Business

Amazon is ending its Covid-19 paid sick leave policy starting Monday, the company said in a memo to employees over the weekend that was shared with CNN Business.

The return to pre-pandemic sick leave policies means all US employees will now have up to five days of excused, unpaid leave for a confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis. Under the previous policy which was last updated in January, workers infected with the virus had up to seven days of paid vacation.

The e-commerce giant cited “the continued easing of the pandemic, the continued availability of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, and updated guidance from public health authorities” as reasons for updating its policies. The note to employees added that eligible workers can still use accrued leave for an absence related to Covid-19.

Amazon also said it will no longer notify workers of positive cases at its facilities unless required by law. This follows decisions by state governments across the country to reduce or end their own reporting of Covid-19, the company said.

While Amazon continued to urge workers to get vaccinated against the virus in the memo, the company also said it was ending its vaccination incentive programs, vaccination rates across the countries that have reached a plateau. (The programs offered frontline workers cash or the chance to win prizes in a raffle.)

“We are monitoring conditions closely and will continue to adjust our response as necessary,” the company told staff members.

Along with the easing of company policies in the age of the pandemic has come, among other things, increased workplace activism at Amazon and multiple high-level organizing efforts. Last month, workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, voted to form the e-commerce giant’s first-ever US union. Amazon has since filed an appeal, calling for a rerun of the entire vote. A separate union bid in Bessemer, Alabama, concluded last month with results too close to announce. Meanwhile, the vote count for another organizing effort at a New York facility is set to begin on Monday.

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