Amazon.com Inc. is asking warehouse workers who have been absent from work because of the pandemic to return for shifts scheduled for May 1, or to apply for a permit.
Although Amazon took steps to contain COVID-19 outbreak cases among its employees, it said workers who were uncomfortable returning to their jobs could take a leave of absence until the end of May. Amazon also offered hundreds of thousands of warehouse workers who work an additional $ 2 an hour in compensation for the risks. The Seattle-based company extended those offers until the end of April.
In a blog post published Friday, Amazon said it would extend the increase until May 16, but did not mention anything about unlimited unpaid leave. Amazon explained that it was “providing flexibility with unpaid leave options and expanding its policies to cover circumstances associated with COVID-19, such as high-risk individuals or school closings.”
An Amazon spokeswoman did not immediately provide further details about changes in permitting policies or which employees were eligible. TOMazon previously said that employees diagnosed with COVID-19, or quarantined due to exposure to someone with the disease, would receive two weeks of sick pay.
The company indicated that most workers continue to attend work. But in interviews, warehouse employees across the United States said many colleagues stayed home, either for fear of contracting or spreading the disease, or to care for children who were unable to attend school. Some hoped to continue without going to work until the pandemic subsides and companies reopen.
Amazon has kept its operations running with new hires and temporary staff, many drawn from the ranks of the unemployed due to the closure of nonessential companies. The company said earlier this month that it had hired an additional 100,000 employees and would seek to fill an additional 75,000 vacancies in its logistics network.
The company also reported Friday that it will extend its additional overtime compensation until mid-May. The cost of the increases the company first implemented in March will approach $ 700 million, Amazon said.
Business Insider reported earlier this week that Amazon was telling some employees that its unpaid leave policy would expire in late April.