Walmart said in a Jan. 4 corporate memo to its workers that is is cutting paid leave in half for those who test positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus or who have quarantined themselves at home after exposure.
Previously, Walmart employees were given two weeks of paid leave, but the retailer will now offer only one week of paid leave instead of two as of March 31.
Walmart also reiterated that workers who become fully vaccinated can receive a $150 payment for doing so if they take the shots before Jan. 31.
Walmart has developed policies during the pandemic for customers and employees in coordination with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which had announced on Dec. 27 changes to its recommended isolation and quarantine period.
There are exceptions to the company’s updated policy regarding paid leave, according to the memo.
Walmart employees who catch the virus and are unable to return to work after a week may still be eligible for additional pay for as long as 26 weeks.
The memo said that workers will still be required to complete a daily health screening before entering a Walmart facility.
The change in policy aligns with the updated guidance from the CDC, which reduced isolation periods for who who test positive for the virus from 10 to five days for most cases, and shortened the amount of time that people who were in close contact with infected individuals needed to quarantine.
“The daily health screen questions will be updated to reflect the changes from the CDC regarding if an associate has received a positive COVID-19 test, has COVID-related symptoms or exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the previous five days instead of 10 days (or following local mandates),” said Walmart management.
CDC officials said that the changes are keeping with growing evidence that people infected with the virus are most vulnerable in the two days before and three after symptoms develop.
The decision also was driven by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, propelled by the Omicron variant, which does not seem to be as virulent as previous variants.
The federal health agency recommended that people who have received a booster shot and are exposed to the virus do not need to quarantine if they wear well-fitting masks and do not show symptoms.
According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 75 percent of private industry workers have access to paid sick leave, with an average of eight days of leave.
Only 3 percent of workers with access to paid sick leave were found to have an unlimited number of days at their disposal.
According to a few surveys, there has been rising public sentiment towards federal paid sick leave, with some workers and employers saying that they support the idea of more government intervention in future health crises.
Over 190 private corporations co-signed a memo in March 2021 asking Democrat congressional leaders to pass federal paid family and medical leave policy as part of the Biden Administration’s controversial “Build Back Better” plan.
However, Democrats and Republicans disagree on the size, scope and funding on any of the drafted various federal paid leave proposals.