American multinational technology company, Amazon, has stated that its workers can take unlimited sick days this month due to the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) but only those in quarantine for the virus will be entitled to extra sick pay.
While many US warehouse workers are entitled to only 10 days’ leave a year for all holidays, sickness and emergencies, there are calls from various quarters for Amazon to change its policy in order to stop the spread of the pandemic.
Reports suggest that some workers are being told to increase their working hours, due to increased demand and staff shortages.
In a statement made via a blog, Amazon said: “The health and safety of our employees and contractors around the world continues to be our top priority as we face the challenges associated with Covid-19.
“Effective immediately, all Amazon employees diagnosed with Covid-19 or placed into quarantine will receive up to two weeks of pay.
“This additional pay while away from work is to ensure employees have the time they need to return to good health without the worry of lost pay.
“This is in addition to unlimited unpaid time off for all hourly employees through the end of March.”
Amazon, it was gathered, has also established a $25m (£19.6m) fund to support independent delivery service partners and their drivers, Amazon Flex participants and seasonal employees under financial distress.
Following this development, some of Amazon’s workers unaffected by the virus have expressed their relief as they said that they will no longer have to struggle to work when either they or their family are sick.
One of the workers, who wrote through an online forum used by Amazon warehouse workers, said: “My two kids have been sick and last night I felt like death. Now, I can take time off and help the three of us to get better.”
Another stated: “It’s allowing me to take a break and get my blood pressure down. My vision started to get blurry… my blood pressure was 176/100[mmHg].”
According to the Seattle-based company, those who test positive for the virus will now be guaranteed two weeks’ pay. This is coming at a time when one Amazon warehouse worker reportedly told colleagues on the forum that the company’s previous policy of not offering sick pay was dangerous.