For regular readers of this blog, you know that my colleague, Tracey Truesdale, gave you some tips for properly paying employees in the event of a pandemic. That was on February 26, 2020. Since then, we’ve heard of employers sending entire offices of employees home to telecommute, restricting travel, and cancelling social events in reaction to the spread of COVID-19. We’ve also heard about Italy’s decision to lock down the country by closing schools and restricting all forms of travel for 16 million people, and how mortgage payments have been suspended to help employees who are faced with sudden unemployment.
How to treat missed work time during the COVID-19 crisis is something that American employers are grappling with. Walmart, the U.S.’s largest private employer, issued a memo to its employees just three days ago substantially revising its attendance and leave policies in response to COVID-19. Walmart advised employees that:
- If employees are unable to work or are uncomfortable at work, they may choose to stay home, and Walmart will waive its attendance occurrence policy through the end of April.
- If an employee or their work location is required to quarantine by a government agency or by Walmart, the employee will receive up to two weeks of paid leave to cover the absence.
- Employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive up to two weeks of paid time off. If an employee cannot return to work after that period, her or she may be eligible for up to 26 weeks of pay replacement.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve also seen several tech giants, including Google, Apple, and Microsoft, direct their employees to telecommute or recommend that they avoid working in shared office spaces. While this approach may not work for every employer, it provides examples of how some employers are responding to the anticipated spread of COVID-19.
For recommendations on how you can prepare for and respond to COVID-19, see our FAQ guidance.