- Four out of 10 hourly workers don’t have access to paid sick leave, according to the Department of Labour.
- But as the coronavirus pandemic worsens, retail workers are often forced to choose between risking their health and losing income or their jobs.
- As a result, a wave of retail companies have implemented changes to their employee benefit policies.
- From Walmart to Starbucks, here are 22 companies that have changed their employee benefit policies in response to the coronavirus.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen, many American retail workers face an impossible choice: go to work and risk their health and safety, or stay home and lose essential income, possibly even their jobs.
According to data from the Department of Labour, four in 10 hourly workers don’t have access to paid sick leave. But employees who come into work sick jeopardize the health of coworkers and customers, as well as the reputation of the company.
The US doesn’t require employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. But the threat of potential coronavirus outbreaks at stores has galvanised a wave of policy changes by retail companies.
Here are 22 consumer companies that have changed their employee benefits in response to the coronavirus pandemic:
On March 5, Trader Joe’s adjusted its sick leave policy in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The grocery chain told employees in an internal memo viewed by Business Insider to stay home if they have symptoms or do not feel well.
Managers will be able to approve reimbursement of time off taken by employees unable to work. The company said that employees who miss more than a week of work will have their situations reviewed on an individual basis by HR.
Additionally, on March 17, the chain announced it would award all its workers with “hazard pay” bonuses in response to an increase in shopper volume.
On March 9, Olive Garden’s parent company, Darden Restaurants, announced that it would give all hourly employees paid sick leave, effective immediately.
Hourly employees now accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, and current employees have immediate access to a “starting balance” based on their last 26 workweeks.
Darden also owns Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, Seasons 52, and Bahama Breeze.
Walmart followed suit on March 9, announcing in a memo that it would waive its attendance policy through the end of April as part of a new emergency leave policy.
Employees can now opt to stay home and take unpaid leave if they feel unable to work or uncomfortable coming to work.
Walmart employees who contract the virus will receive “up to two weeks of pay,” the company said in the memo. After two weeks, hourly associates who aren’t able to return to work are eligible for up to 26 weeks in pay.
On March 10, Apple reportedly sent out an internal memo saying all office workers would be able to work from home, according to 9to5Mac. It also announced unlimited sick leave for all full-time and part-time hourly workers.
Then, on March 13, the company announced it would close all stores until March 27 and pay all employees normally through the duration of the closure.
Starbucks was one of the first companies to announce on March 11 that it would provide “catastrophe pay” to US baristas who come into contact with coronavirus. The chain had already implemented the policy in China.
On March 20, the chain revised its policy, saying it would pay all workers for 30 days regardless of whether they came into work. On the same day, the chain also moved to a drive-thru and delivery-only model.
As of March 9, Instacart is offering any part-time employees or shoppers diagnosed with the coronavirus up to 14 days of paid sick leave. The policy will last until April 7.
The company also changed its policy to allow both full-time and part-time in-store shoppers to accrue sick pay. Shoppers will earn one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked, for a total of up to 40 hours a year, backdated effective to the start of 2020.
DoorDash’s policy is similar to Instacart’s: 14 days of paid sick leave to any drivers who are diagnosed with the coronavirus or who are subject to quarantine. The new policy was first reported by The Verge on March 10.
Also on March 10, Postmates unveiled a “fleet relief fund” to help couriers pay for the cost of medical check-ups. In order to take advantage of the fund, couriers do not have to have been quarantined or diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Postmates couriers who have made at least one delivery in certain states in the last two weeks will be able to use money from the fund to cover medical costs. This includes the District of Columbia and these states: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.
On March 11, Amazon announced an update to its sick leave policy in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The company announced it would provide up to two weeks of paid sick leave to all employees quarantined for or diagnosed with the coronavirus. The policy also applies to warehouse workers and hourly employees. The company is also offering unlimited sick leave through the end of March for all hourly employees.
Amazon is also establishing a relief fund with a $US25 million initial contribution to support contractors, such as courier companies and their drivers, Amazon Flex drivers, and seasonal employees.
On March 11, Lowe’s announced temporary time-off measures for its employees. The company is encouraging employees who feel sick to stay home.
Anyone quarantined or diagnosed with the coronavirus will be able to take up to 14 paid days off. The days off will not count against the employee’s sick, vacation, or holiday time, and they will be paid for their sick leave until their physician releases them to return to work.
Employees at medium or high risk of contracting the virus due to contact with an individual with the virus or travel to a high-risk area will also receive 14 days of paid time off, to be spent in quarantine.
On March 12, Target updated its policies in reaction to the coronavirus. The retailer waived its absenteeism policy for employees who experience flu-like symptoms or who are affected by school or daycare closures.
The chain also implemented quarantine pay and confirmed illness pay, both lasting 14 days. Quarantine pay will apply to employees who are placed under mandatory quarantine, and confirmed illness pay will apply to employees diagnosed with the coronavirus.
On March 16, Target announced additional benefits on its website’s newly created coronavirus hub, including making back-up family care available to all employees. Target HQ also announced that it was encouraging all employees who are able to work remotely to work from home.
KFC US confirmed to Business Insider on March 13 that the chain would pay employees at corporate-owned restaurants for up to two weeks of scheduled shifts. Employees who are eligible for the pay include employees who have either been diagnosed with or exposed to the coronavirus, or show symptoms. Employees ordered to self-quarantine or affected by restaurant closures will also receive the emergency paid leave.
Inspire Brands is the parent company of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic, Jimmy John’s, and Rusty Tacos. On Monday, March 16, the company updated its coronavirus preparedness site, announcing a number of new measures including a “Catastrophic Paid Leave Policy” for corporate employees. Inspire Brands did not include specifics on the new policy in its announcement.
Restaurant Brands International (Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons parent company)
On Tuesday, Restaurant Brands International CEO José Cil confirmed to Business Insider in a phone interview that employees at corporate-owned restaurants affected by the coronavirus would receive up to 14 days of paid sick leave. Restaurant Brands International owns Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons.
Cil noted that it’s the first time the company has instituted such a policy, and that it is encouraging franchisees to do the same.
“We don’t want people to make the choice of coming to the restaurant sick because they need the money,” Cil said.
McDonald’s announced on March 11 that it would provide employees at corporate-owned restaurants with up to 14 days of paid sick leave if diagnosed with or quarantined for the coronavirus. However, this does policy does not apply to franchise employees, and over 90% of McDonald’s locations are franchises.
Chilli’s announced on March 19 that it was launching an emergency relief fund for employees for the next two weeks. The chain also said that it would offer employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined due to a family member’s diagnosis with COVID-19 emergency sick pay.
On March 21, Kroger updated its emergency sick leave policy to extend its 14-day benefits to cover not only workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined for exposure to the coronavirus, but also workers who show symptoms of the virus or are self-isolating because they are at a higher risk.
This comes after the company announced its initial coronavirus emergency leave policy, which covered only workers diagnosed with or quarantined for the virus.
BJ’s Wholesale Club
In a press release sent to Business Insider on March 23, BJ’s announced that all hourly employees would receive an additional $US2 an hour through at least April 12. Managers will receive a one-time bonus of $US500 to $US1,000.
Employees will also receive up to 14 days of paid leave if placed under mandatory quarantine. Employees diagnosed with the coronavirus will be paid through a combination of paid time off and company-paid leave.
Whole Foods implemented an emergency leave policy on March 13, stating that employees diagnosed with or quarantined for the coronavirus would receive up to two weeks of pay. The grocery chain also increased the funds available in its “Team Member Emergency Fund,” to which its parent company, Amazon, also contributed an additional $US1.6 million.
And on March 16, the company announced that employees would receive an additional $US2 per hour worked through the end of April.
On March 24, In-N-Out’s vice president of operations, Denny Warnick, announced that all employees had been given two weeks of paid sick leave to use at their discretion. Unlike most other retail and fast-food sick leave policies, In-N-Out does not require a COVID-19 diagnosis or quarantine for an employee to use their sick leave.
The grocery chain announced it had “enhanced” its disability pay program in response to COVID-19 and created a voluntary leave program. The announcement does not disclose more details about those policies.
Wegmans also raised employees’ pay by $US2 on March 21, effective through the end of April.
On March 31, Publix told the Tampa Bay Times that the grocery chain would start offering paid sick leave to employees diagnosed with COVID-19. The chain will now offer two weeks of paid leave to any employee who is diagnosed with the virus and forced to quarantine, as well as to any employee who has had close contact with someone diagnosed with the virus.
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