Amazon ends its paid Covid-19 sick leave policy

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

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

Amazon also said it will no longer notify workers of positive cases in its facilities, unless required by law. This follows the decisions made by state governments across the country to reduce or end their own Covid-19 reporting, 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 vaccine incentives programs as vaccination rates across the country have plateaued. (The programs offered front-line employees cash or the chance to win prizes from a sweepstakes.)

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

The easing of the company’s pandemic-era policies notably comes amid heightened workplace activism at Amazon and multiple high-profile unionization efforts. Just last month, workers at a Staten Island, New York, warehouse voted to form the e-commerce giant’s first-ever US labor union. Amazon has since filed an appeal, calling for a do-over of the entire vote. A separate union bid in Bessemer, Alabama, concluded last month with the results too close to call. Meanwhile, the vote count for another unionization effort at a facility in New York is slated to begin on Monday.

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