Walmart Inc will now provide only one week of paid leave to COVID-19 positive employees. The previous policy allowed them to have two-weeks off-time. This is according to a memo seen by Reuters.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Policy

U.S. hourly associates and long-haul drivers received a memo on last Tuesday.  According to the memo, the COVID positive employees will one-week paid leave from work to complete quarantine. The company is changed its policy in light of guidelines from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated last week. The guidelines recommends that the people will isolate for five days after getting the COVID-19 infection. Previously, the infected people had to to complete a ten-days quarantine period.

Labor Shortage Challenge

Walmart is the largest private employer in United States employing about 1.6 million workers. The retail giant is the first major retailer to reduce the paid leave time for COVID-19. Many other companies may change their paid leaves policy accordingly. The current spike in COVID-19 cases is posing the challenge of significant labor shortage for the employers. Many industries are battling with supply-chain issues, product shortages, rising inflation and rocketing transportation costs. A Walmart spokesperson confirmed the COVID-leave policy change. Workers who continue to be sick can potentially receive additional COVID-related pay for up to 26 weeks.

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    Pandemic’s Effect on Walmart’s Business

    There are 600 Sam’s Club stores and more than 4,700 Walmart U.S. stores in the United States operating under Walmart. Last week, the company announced that they temporarily shut 60 stores in COVID-19 hot spots during December for sanitization purpose. Like other mass retailers, Walmart witnessed a massive increase in sales during the pandemic as more people shopped for groceries and home goods. The company raised its full-year annual sales and profit forecast in November but disappointed investors with higher labor and transportation costs that eroded margins.

    The company’s stock is nearly flat over the past one year compared to the broader S&P 500 retailing index’s 20.6% rise over the same period.

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