From Walmart to Starbucks, these 10 retail companies are changing their benefits policies amid the coronavirus pandemic

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From Walmart to Starbucks, these 10 retail companies are changing their benefits policies amid the coronavirus pandemic

Walmart employee

  • Four out of 10 hourly workers don't have access to paid sick leave, according to the Department of Labor.
  • But as the coronavirus pandemic worsens, retail workers are often forced to choose between risking their health and losing income or their jobs.
  • As a result, a wave of retail companies have implemented changes to their employee benefit policies.
  • From Walmart to Starbucks, here are 10 companies that have changed their employee benefit policies in response to the coronavirus.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen, many American retail workers face an impossible choice: go to work and risk their health and safety, or stay home and lose essential income, possibly even their jobs.

According to data from the Department of Labor, four in 10 hourly workers don't have access to paid sick leave. But employees who come into work sick jeopardize the health of coworkers and customers, as well as the reputation of the company.

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The US doesn't require employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. But the threat of potential coronavirus outbreaks at stores has galvanized a wave of policy changes by retail companies.

Here are 10 consumer companies that have changed their employee benefits in response to the coronavirus pandemic:

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Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's

On March 5, Trader Joe's adjusted its sick leave policy in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The grocery chain told employees in an internal memo viewed by Business Insider to stay home if they have symptoms or do not feel well.

Managers will be able to approve reimbursement of time off taken by employees unable to work. The company said that employees who miss more than a week of work will have their situations reviewed on an individual basis by HR.

Darden Restaurants

Darden Restaurants

On Monday, Olive Garden's parent company, Darden Restaurants, announced that it would give all hourly employees paid sick leave, effective immediately.

Hourly employees now accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, and current employees have immediate access to a "starting balance" based on their last 26 workweeks.

Darden also owns Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, Seasons 52, and Bahama Breeze.

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Walmart

Walmart

Walmart followed suit on Tuesday, announcing in a memo that it would waive its attendance policy through the end of April as part of a new emergency leave policy.

Employees can now opt to stay home and take unpaid leave if they feel unable to work or uncomfortable coming to work.

Walmart employees who contract the virus will receive "up to two weeks of pay," the company said in the memo. After two weeks, hourly associates who aren't able to return to work are eligible for up to 26 weeks in pay.

Apple

Apple

On Tuesday, Apple reportedly sent out an internal memo saying all office workers would be able to work from home, according to 9to5Mac.

Additionally, hourly employees including retail workers would be able to take unlimited sick leave if they have coronavirus-like symptoms. Workers seeking paid sick leave for coronavirus symptoms wouldn't be required to provide a doctor's note.

Apple did not respond to Business Insider's request for more details about its leave policy.

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Starbucks

Starbucks

Starbucks announced on Wednesday that it would provide "catastrophe pay" to US baristas who come into contact with coronavirus. The chain had already implemented the policy in China.

If a barista has been exposed to or come into contact with someone with the virus, or has been diagnosed with the virus, they will receive up to 14 days of paid leave. Similar to Darden's policy, Starbucks is offering additional pay — up to 26 days — to workers who are still unable to work after the original 14 days.

High-risk workers with doctors' notes are also eligible for catastrophe pay. Ill but undiagnosed workers are eligible for three days of leave coverage while they are tested for the virus.

Instacart

Instacart

As of March 9, Instacart is offering any part-time employees or shoppers diagnosed with the coronavirus up to 14 days of paid sick leave. The policy will last until April 7.

The company also changed its policy to allow both full-time and part-time in-store shoppers to accrue sick pay. Shoppers will earn one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked, for a total of up to 40 hours a year, backdated effective to the start of 2020.

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DoorDash

DoorDash

DoorDash's policy is similar to Instacart's: 14 days of paid sick leave to any drivers who are diagnosed with the coronavirus or who are subject to quarantine. The new policy was first reported by The Verge on Tuesday.

Postmates

Postmates

Also on Tuesday, Postmates unveiled a "fleet relief fund" to help couriers pay for the cost of medical check-ups. In order to take advantage of the fund, couriers do not have to have been quarantined or diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Postmates couriers who have made at least one delivery in certain states in the last two weeks will be able to use money from the fund to cover medical costs. This includes the District of Columbia and these states: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

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Amazon

Amazon

On Wednesday, Amazon announced an update to its sick leave policy in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company announced it would provide up to two weeks of paid sick leave to all employees quarantined for or diagnosed with the coronavirus. The policy also applies to warehouse workers and hourly employees. The company is also offering unlimited sick leave through the end of March for all hourly employees.

Amazon is also establishing a relief fund with a $25 million initial contribution to support contractors, such as courier companies and their drivers, Amazon Flex drivers, and seasonal employees.

Lowe's

Lowe's

On Wednesday, Lowe's announced temporary time-off measures for its employees. The company is encouraging employees who feel sick to stay home.

Anyone quarantined or diagnosed with the coronavirus will be able to take up to 14 paid days off. The days off will not count against the employee's sick, vacation, or holiday time, and they will be paid for their sick leave until their physician releases them to return to work.

Employees at medium or high risk of contracting the virus due to contact with an individual with the virus or travel to a high-risk area will also receive 14 days of paid time off, to be spent in quarantine.

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