United States based global retailer Amazon.com has announced that all of its employees will be allowed to take unlimited sick days this month. However sick pay will be given to those employees who have been confirmed to be infected with the virus that causes the disease called Covid19.
Employees in many of the company’s warehouses in the US are entitled to only 10 days’ leave a year which includes leave for all holidays, sickness and emergencies. Some of the employees had requested the company to change the policy to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
There however have been some reports claiming the some Amazon workers complaining of being asked to work additional hours – known in the company as mandatory extra time, in order to meet the increased demand and worker shortage.
“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 said in a blog.
A fund of $25 million has been established by the company already with the aim of providing support to independent delivery service partners and their drivers, participants in Amazon Flex and seasonal employees who are “under financial distress” because of the virus outbreak.
According to reports in the media, there were comments in the online forum that is used by about 25,000 Amazon warehouse workers wherein employees currently unaffected by the virus expressed relief that they would not now have to struggle into work when either they or their family are sick.
“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,” wrote one, reported the media. Another employee reportedly said: “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].”
Two week’s pay would be given to those employees who have tested positive for the virus.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is no entitlement to paid sick days for one in four US workers – which amounts to more than 32 million. The number is even more – at seven in 10, for those who are low-paid workers.
Demands for better conditions, with more paid time off (PTO) being chief among them, were being raised by workers of Amazon even before the crisis created by the spread of the coronavirus.
In some facilities, workers have begun wearing badges saying: “Amazonians united for PTO”.
“Amazon thinks we’re just some stupid workers. But we know our rights, we’re organising and we’re winning,” one worker, who asked to remain anonymous, told some news outlets.
(Adapted from BBC.com)