Labor & Employment Law Daily 15 state attorneys general call on Amazon, Whole Foods to expand paid sick leave
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Monday, March 30, 2020

15 state attorneys general call on Amazon, Whole Foods to expand paid sick leave

By WK Editorial Staff

The letter urged the CEOs of both companies to provide sick leave, as many small businesses are required to do under the recently passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The attorneys general of 15 states sent a letter to John Mackey and Jeffery Bezos, the CEOs Whole Foods Market, Inc. and Amazon.com, Inc., respectively, expressing concerns that the “paid sick leave policies of Whole Foods and Amazon…are inadequate to protect the public health during the developing COVID-19 crisis.”

According to the letter, the companies provide two weeks of paid sick leave to employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are placed in quarantine, and they offer unpaid leave through the end of March. The letter encourages the employers to update their policies to be consistent with current CDC recommendations.

The attorneys general note that grocery stores “remain one of the few places where people are regularly congregating in close quarters” and that because Amazon recently announced plans to hire 100,000 new employees, its warehouses “are a significant site for possible transmission of the virus both from worker to worker, and to the general public in homes across our states.”

The letter called on the companies to expand their two-week paid sick leave policy beyond covering only those employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine:

  • to include individuals covered by the FFCRA, such as those caring for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or unable to work due to the need to care for a child whose school has been closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions;
  • to provide 12 weeks of paid leave at a rate of two-thirds of their regular pay (up to $200 per day) to full-time employees and part-time employees who are unable to work due to the need to care for their children whose school has closed or to care for themselves or a family member who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; and
  • to set aside funds for the companies’ workerswho are classified as independent contractors so that they can receive comparable benefits.

The attorneys general signing the letter represent the states of Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia

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