Amazon, Walmart, JPMorgan: Businesses begin shifting COVID policies

Mask mandates are on the out as Omicron starts to fade

Amazon, Walmart, JPMorgan: Businesses begin shifting COVID policies

Businesses in the United States are starting to make changes in their COVID-related policies in workplaces as vaccination rates go higher and the new cases show signs of decline. Amazon, for one, told its warehouse employees that face masks would no longer be required from them as long as they are vaccinated and are working in states that have chosen to ease up on the mandate, CNN reported.

Similarly, Walmart also said face masks will no longer be required from fully vaccinated employees unless they are directed by their state or local governments. CNN reported that the retailer's unvaccinated staff, as well as those working in clinical care settings, will need to keep their masks on.

JPMorgan Chase & Co is also dropping mask mandates in its US buildings, Bloomberg reported. The company in an internal memo said mask-wearing is completely voluntary unless there are local policies requiring them. The bank, however, also limited the updated policy to vaccinated workers, saying those who have not taken the jabs or have refused to disclose their vaccination status will still need to wear masks.

Leave policy

Walmart and Amazon also saw changes in their leave policies that are related to COVID-19, CNN reported, citing internal memos from both companies. Amazon told its US staff that its COVID-19 paid leave policy will only be limited to fully vaccinated staff starting March 18. Those who remain unvaccinated are not eligible for the paid leave, the company said, and instead will be given up to a week of unpaid leave so they can get isolated or quarantined.

Read more: Kroger cuts COVID-19 benefits for unvaccinated employees

Walmart also said it is phasing out its sick pay policy for COVID-19 in March. Daily health screenings will also be removed for its facilities, except in states where they are required. JPMorgan, however, said that contract tracing and weekly mandatory testing for unvaccinated workers will remain in place.

Cutting off perks for unvaccinated

The need for expanded leave policies emerged as COVID-19 began spreading all over the world and making workers sick. But with the vaccines becoming more accessible and getting the jabs is starting to become a personal choice - is it really wise for employers to cut off unvaccinated staff from COVID benefits because of their decision?

Dawn Tan and Karen Mitra from Ashurst ADT previously told HRD that employers "should not set out to sanction or penalise" unvaccinated employees, even in attempts to get them vaccinated.

"If a situation arises where a different approach may need to be taken with respect to an employee based on their vaccination status, give meaningful consideration as to whether differentiated treatment is actually necessary to ensure employee safety," Tan and Mitra said.

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