Walmart Activates New Emergency Leave Policy After Store Associate Tests Positive for COVID-19

Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, announced today that it is deploying a new emergency employee leave policy for its 1.4 million hourly U.S. workers after one of its female store associates in Cynthiana, Ky., tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The move comes as the disease continues to spread throughout the U.S., with an estimated 760 cases diagnosed and at least 26 deaths. The company is waiving its attendance policy through the end of April.

An email sent to employees from Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner, Sam’s Club CEO Kathryn McLay and Chief People Officer Donna Morris shared specific details of the retailer’s new COVID-19 leave policy. (The email was obtained and posted by Business Insider.) Among the details, employees will be allowed to stay home if they are unable to work or feel uncomfortable at work. Associates must, however, use their regular paid time-off options. Those opting to stay home have been asked to continue to “call in as usual” to update store management.

In addition, hourly employees who work in a store, club, office or distribution center will receive up to two weeks pay if the government or the retailer requires them to quarantine themselves. Workers who have a confirmed case of the virus will also receive up to two weeks of pay. If they are unable to return to work after that time, additional pay may be provided for up to 26 weeks for both full- and part-time hourly workers.

Walmart also stated in the email that it continues to evaluate the situation and that it will “take any and all measures necessary to ensure the well-being of associates, customers and members.”

Following consultation with state and local health experts, the impacted Kentucky store remains open, and Walmart has taken steps to “reinforce [its] cleaning and sanitizing protocol,” the company said. The infected worker is currently receiving medical care and her condition is improving, according the email.

Walmart did not immediately respond to FN’s request for comment.

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