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Amazon expands sick-leave policy in wake of coronavirus outbreak

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An e-tail giant is offering support to employees and contractors who need to miss work due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Effective immediately, all Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine will receive up to two weeks of pay. Amazon said the additional pay will ensure employees have the time they need to return to good health without the worry of lost pay. The new policy is in addition to unlimited unpaid time off for all hourly employees through the end of March, which Amazon introduced at the beginning of the month.

In addition, the company is establishing the Amazon Relief Fund with a $25 million initial contribution focused on supporting independent delivery service partners and their drivers, Amazon Flex participants, and seasonal employees. Amazon will be offering all of these groups the ability to apply for grants approximately equal to up to two weeks of pay if diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine by the government or Amazon.

The fund also will support Amazon employees and contractors around the world who face financial hardships from other qualifying events, such as a natural disaster, federally declared emergency, or unforeseen personal hardship. Applicants can apply and receive a personal grant from the fund ranging from $400 to $5,000 USD per person. The e-tailer will be publishing a website in the coming days where employees and contractors can apply for grants from the fund.

“The health and safety of our employees and contractors around the world continues to be our top priority as we face the challenges associated with COVID-19,” Beth Galetti, senior VP of HR, Amazon, said in a corporate blog post. “Leaders across Amazon are meeting every day to consider the evolving situation and are consulting with medical experts to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our teams healthy. We’ve taken a number of actions over the past few weeks and today we’re introducing two more.”

Amazon has also recently launched two other charitable efforts aimed at mitigating the impact of the coronavirus on its home state of Washington. These include a $5 million Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund to provide cash grants to small businesses in Seattle that need assistance dealing with the impact of COVID-19. The company will also subsidy a full month of rent for tenants in the buildings it owns, and is continuing to pay all hourly staff who work for the service providers that support its offices in Seattle and Bellevue, Wash., during the time the company has recommended its employees work from home.

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