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Amazon’s Sick Leave Called Inadequate by State Attorneys General

Spencer Soper

(Bloomberg) -- Attorneys general in 14 states and Washington D.C. said Amazon.com Inc.’s sick leave policies are “inadequate to protect the public health during the developing COVID-19 crisis,” according to a letter they sent to the e-commerce giant Wednesday.

Amazon is promoting itself as an essential service that helps vulnerable people avoid crowded stores, while some government and health officials fear the company is putting warehouse, supermarket and delivery workers at risk. Amazon has said it will provide up to two weeks of paid leave for employees who have confirmed cases of the virus or are placed in quarantine.

That isn’t enough, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey wrote in the letter, which was signed by other attorneys general from states including California, New York, Pennsylvania and Amazon’s home state of Washington.

“We urge you to adopt a more generous paid leave policy for the Companies’ employees and independent contractors,” the letter stated. It was written to Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos and John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, Amazon’s grocery store business.

Amazon said the two weeks paid leave for any affected employees is on top of other time off employees already receive and that all hourly workers can take unlimited unpaid time off without losing their jobs through the end of April.

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we remain laser focused on serving customers and ensuring the well-being and safety of our employees and those they care for,” Amazon said in a statement. “This is a top priority as they work to provide an essential service to our country.”

(Updates with Amazon statement in fifth paragraph)

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