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Amazon workers will now get only a week of COVID PTO

Amazon has changed its PTO policy for workers forced to quarantine, as reported by CNBC and the Wall Street Journal. The policy has shrunk to one week (or 40 hours) off, down from its initial length of 14 days, which is still mentioned on an Amazon hiring page (via Engadget) but had already been shortened to ten days. Engadget’s report includes an excerpt of Amazon’s notice to employees about the change, citing the CDC’s updated recommendations that people who have tested positive for COVID should isolate for five days, as long as their symptoms are gone.

Amazon isn’t alone in changing its policies along with the federal government. As Engadget points out, Walmart has also cut down the number of PTO hours employees who contract COVID get. There have also been reports of sick workers across the country losing protections after the American Rescue Plan expired on September 30th, leaving state and local governments (and individual employers) to decide the rules for themselves.

The CDC’s new guidance, released at the end of December, took the recommended isolation time down from ten days to five. Public health experts have said it’s supported by research, but some have expressed concern about employees who are still sick being brought back to work. According to a copy of Amazon’s revised policy seen by The Verge, there are “additional leave options are available for individuals who remain symptomatic beyond one week.”

For some employees, their economic situations could force a return to work if they’re not paid to stay home, regardless of company policy about coming in sick.

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Amazon doesn’t have one singular directive for how its office employees will return to in-person work, instead opting to let individual teams decide how much of their work should be remote. This, of course, isn’t the case for jobs that have to be in-person, like Amazon’s warehouse workers, delivery drivers, IT staff working on AWS servers, and more. Amazon reinstated its mask mandate for warehouse workers in December after lifting it in November.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.

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