Amazon workers will no longer be paid for Covid leave

A worker sorts packages on the outbound dock at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Eastvale, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

Watchara Phomicinda | MediaNews Group | The Riverside Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

Amazon is cutting paid leave for frontline American workers who test positive for Covid-19, effective Monday.

All U.S.-based Amazon workers who test positive for Covid-19 will now have up to five days of excused and unpaid leave, the company told workers in a notice sent Saturday. A spokesperson said CNBC workers can still use their sick leave if needed.

In Saturday’s notice, Amazon added that workers waiting for Covid test results will no longer be excused, as rapid tests are now widely available.

The e-commerce giant slowly withdrew its Covid policies as vaccines became more widely available and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed guidance. The company initially offered up to two weeks of paid leave to any employee diagnosed with Covid-19 or placed in quarantine. In January, the company reduced paid vacation time to one week, or up to 40 hours.

As part of the takedown, Amazon will stop sending site-wide notifications of positive cases at its facilities unless required by law. The company will also stop encouraging vaccination efforts, she said.

“The continued mitigation of the pandemic, the continued availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and updated guidance from public health authorities indicate that we can continue to safely adapt to our pre-COVID policies,” the company said in the notice.

The decision will likely trigger a backlash from pro-union workers demanding better working conditions and benefits at its warehouses. The move comes a day after an Amazon warehouse in New York’s Staten Island shut down its labor campaign. The National Labor Relations Board will begin counting ballots on May 2.

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