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Amazon workers won’t get paid for Covid leave anymore

A worker sorts out parcels in the outbound dock at Amazon fulfillment center in Eastvale, California on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.

Watchara Phomicinda | MediaNews Group | The Riverside Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

Amazon is cutting paid time off for front-line U.S. workers who test positive for Covid-19, effective Monday.

All U.S.-based Amazon workers who test positive for Covid-19 will now get up to five days of excused, unpaid leave, the company told workers in a notice sent Saturday. A spokesperson told CNBC workers are still able to use their sick time off if needed.

In Saturday’s notice, Amazon added that workers waiting for Covid test results will no longer have time off excused since rapid tests are now widely available.

The e-commerce giant has slowly pulled back its Covid policies as vaccines have become more widely available and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance. The company initially offered up to two weeks of paid time off for any employees diagnosed with Covid-19 or placed into quarantine. In January, the company reduced paid leave time to one week, or up to 40 hours.

As part of the pullback, Amazon will stop sending site-wide notifications of positive cases in its facilities, unless required by law. The company will also end incentivizing vaccination efforts, it said.

“The sustained easing of the pandemic, ongoing availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, and updated guidance from public health authorities, all signal we can continue to safely adjust to our pre-COVID policies,” the company said in the notice.

The decision will likely spark a backlash from pro-union workers who are arguing for better working conditions and improved benefits at its warehouses. The move comes a day after an Amazon warehouse on New York’s Staten Island closed its union drive. The National Labor Relations Board will begin counting ballots on May 2.

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