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Amazon Creates Relief Fund for Workers Impacted by Coronavirus

By Daniel B. Kline - Mar 12, 2020 at 11:06AM

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The company wants sick employees, and those who may have been exposed to COVID-19, to stay home.

Companies around the world have struggled to decide how to protect the health and well-being of workers who can't easily do their jobs from home. Amazon (AMZN 3.15%) just became the latest large employer to enact new policies designed to keep sick workers -- and those who think they could be in danger of getting coronavirus -- from coming in just because they need the paycheck.

A man works in an Amazon warehouse.

Amazon wants sick workers to stay home. Image source: Amazon.

What is Amazon doing?

The company enacted a new policy for workers who contract or are exposed to coronavirus. It explained the expanded plan in an email to all employees:

Effective immediately, all Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine will receive up to two weeks of pay. This additional pay while away from work is to ensure employees have the time they need to return to good health without the worry of lost pay. This is in addition to unlimited unpaid time off for all hourly employees through the end of March, which we shared with employees last week.

Amazon has also set up a $25 million emergency relief fund dedicated to helping its "independent delivery service partners and their drivers, Amazon Flex participants, and seasonal employees under financial distress during this challenging time." Workers in those groups can apply for grants equal to up to about two weeks of pay if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine.

More companies need to follow Amazon's lead

Policies like these not only protect workers, they protect businesses. No employer should want sick employees -- or even those who might have been exposed -- to come into work. Providing them with more compensated time off reduces the odds of that happening, and makes everyone safer.

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