In brief: Earlier today, we reported on Google's decision to tell all of its North American workers to telecommute instead of coming into the office. The search giant hoped the move would help to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and keep its workers safe and healthy. Now, Amazon is instituting a new coronavirus-related policy of its own, though it's more reactive than proactive.
Moving forward, if an Amazon employee is diagnosed with coronavirus or forced into quarantine, that individual will be given "up to" two full weeks of pay. This policy applies to both full and part-time workers, and it stacks on top of Amazon's recent pledge to offer workers unlimited paid time off if they're asked not to come in due to COVID-19 complications.
In other words, if you get struck with this dangerous illness, Amazon has your back. While the company is not exactly a shining pillar of humane employee treatment, it's tough to deny that this is a remarkably pro-worker move -- if you catch COVID-19, the last thing you want to worry about is paying your rent or feeding your family.
Amazon isn't ignorant to the plight of its contractors and seasonal employees, either. The shopping behemoth is establishing the "Amazon Relief Fund," a $25 million pool of cash intended to support such workers who find themselves "under financial distress" during the COVID-19 outbreak. These individuals won't qualify for the month of paid time off mentioned before, but they can gain access to funds that would be "approximately equal" to two-weeks of pay if they're diagnosed with the virus.
If you're an Amazon contractor suffering from other financial hardships (whether they're related to the COVID-19 outbreak or not), you can still get a helping hand. Natural disasters, federally declared emergencies, and "unforeseen personal hardships" can all qualify you for a "personal grant" amounting to between $400 and $5,000.
We hope to see more policies like this from Amazon in the coming weeks. The COVID-19 outbreak is serious, and it will take a coordinated effort from world governments, corporations, and -- of course -- to overcome it.