Amazon set to end 'unlimited unpaid time off' policy
Amazon told Business Insider that its policy of unlimited but unpaid time off, announced in response to COVID-19, extends only "through the end of April."
Amazon initially set the policy to expire in March, before the company extended it another month amid a growing number of coronavirus infections at its facilities.
"I think it means they want people who don't want to come to work to start quitting," an Amazon warehouse employee told Business Insider.
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Amazon reminded employees at an Indiana warehouse on Tuesday that it is terminating its policy of unlimited, unpaid time off on April 30 — while informing them that a fourth coworker had tested positive for COVID-19.
The next day Amazon told employees of a fifth case at the facility in Jeffersonville, Indiana, which Business Insider last month reported was failing to comply with the company's social-distancing measures.
At the time, Amazon pledged to investigate, but an employee there says that groups of workers continue to ignore signs asking them to stay apart from each other. "We're just waiting for a major breakout," the employee told Business Insider.
In text messages concerning the latest positive tests, Amazon said it recognized that its warehouse staff "may be nervous about coming into work." The company reminded them that "absences will not be penalized, and you may take unlimited unpaid time off through the end of April."
Amazon initially offered unpaid time off through the end of March, before extending the policy. It does not appear the company will do so again.
If employees wish to take time off, an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider, "those individuals have access to all their usual paid and unpaid time-off benefits." They reiterated that hourly employees would enjoy unlimited unpaid time off only "through the end of April."
In the past, employees who have taken more time off than allotted have risked immediate dismissal, though the company told Business Insider that it considers mitigating circumstances.
"I think it means they want people who don't want to come to work to start quitting," another employee told Business Insider.
Any worker who contracts the coronavirus will continue to receive up to two weeks of paid leave. Since the pandemic, the company has also begun to offer paid time off to part-time employees and boosted hourly wages by $2.
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