Walmart halves Covid paid leave after change in CDC guidelines

  • Walmart cuts its paid COVID leave from two weeks to one week.
  • Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are entitled to paid leave, as well as those required in quarantine by the company or a public authority.
  • The CDC has shortened its isolation recommendation for asymptomatic humans to five days.

Walmart halves the amount of paid leave it gives to employees who test positive for COVID-19, according to a note seen by Reuters and CNBC. The memo was sent to hourly shop workers in the United States and long-distance truck drivers, according to Reuters, which first reported the news.

Workers will now be entitled to one week’s paid leave instead of two, the news media reported. Employees who are still sick after one week could potentially receive additional pay for up to 26 weeks, Reuters reported, citing a Walmart spokesman.

The big-box retailer will also provide the week of paid leave to workers required in quarantine by the company, a health care provider or a government agency, according to the reports.

A Walmart spokesman told CNBC that employees are entitled to paid leave regardless of their vaccination status.

Company employees have also been asked to work mainly from home until January 30, marking an extension from the original deadline of January 10, according to reports.

Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The dealer’s move comes after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened its isolation recommendation for asymptomatic people to five days, down from 10 days. The White House Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anthony Fauci said the CDC’s guideline for a shorter isolation period was to “get people back to work.”

Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States with 1.6 million employees, and is one of the first large companies to update its policies in accordance with new CDC guidelines.

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