CVS clarifies its worker policies after more than 1,700 employees sign a petition demanding paid sick leave, face masks, and gloves as stores are overrun with customers

ReutersCVS employees started a petition demanding paid sick leave and protective gear.
  • On Wednesday, CVS issued an update that clarified its policies to include paid sick leave for employees diagnosed with the coronavirus or under mandatory quarantine.
  • This comes four days after employees started a petition on demanding sick leave, family care, crisis pay, and basic protective gear.
  • A representative for CVS said that its sick-leave policy was implemented on February 3, although no public announcement was made at the time.
  • While the clarified policies address sick leave and family care, CVS has still not offered employees a crisis pay rate or protective gear like gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes.
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CVS clarified its workplace policies on Wednesday after employees petitioned for paid sick leave and basic protections.

Lisa Bisaccia, executive vice president and chief human resources officer at CVS, said in a press release that employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined for exposure would be paid up to 14 days. In addition, employees are now able to request time off to care for a family member diagnosed with the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Just four days earlier, on March 14, CVS employees started a petition on demanding paid sick leave and protective gear. On Wednesday at noon ET, the petition had just under 1,700 signatures.

The petition, which addressed CVS president and CEO Larry Merlo, stated: “Our goal is to have updated paid sick leave policies that will ensure workers get paid for sick days and for caring for sick family in the [midst] of COVID-19. At the very minimum, CVS should provide a crisis rate for workers still reporting to work and have protective gear (gloves, masks) and enough cleaning supplies for employees. “

A representative for CVS said that these policies were first implemented on February 3, though no public announcement was made at the time. The spokesperson added that company is also following the CDC’s guidance and providing personal protective equipment to healthcare workers who might be treating people who are symptomatic at locations.

The company’s clarified policies address the petition’s first two concerns: sick leave and family care. However, CVS has still not implemented a crisis pay rate, new cleaning protocols, or protective gear for employees. The petition also emphasises a lack of masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and alcohol wipes for employees to use.

“CVS pharmacies do not have adequate supply of hand sanitizers OR alcohol for their own employees to use,” the petition says. “There is no way technicians can wash their hands after every transaction. Yet, we use our same dirty hands to fill patient’s prescriptions.”

Crisis pay would not be unprecedented, as Trader Joe’s recently announced bonus pay for all employees working during the coronavirus pandemic. Over a dozen major consumer companies, including Walmart, have implemented new sick-leave policies to address the crisis as early as March 9.

An internal memo leaked to Mother Jones on Monday revealed that CVS had sent false information on how to combat the coronavirus to its staff in a press release. The memo claimed, “Drinking warm water is an effective way to wash the virus into your stomach, where it is killed.” There is no scientific basis for that claim, and CVS has since removed the statement from its guidance for employees.

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