March 21, 2020

Senator Warren Calls on Amazon, Walmart, and McDonalds to Ensure Workers Have Immediate Access to Emergency Paid Leave during COVID-19 Outbreak

Warren urges companies to provide 14 days of paid sick leave to ensure that workers can afford to take leave if infected by coronavirus; “I urge you to rise to the imperative of this public health crisis by providing universal, flexible paid leave and adequate health and safety protections for all your employees”

Text of Letter to Amazon (PDF) | Text of Letter to Walmart (PDF) | Text of Letter to McDonalds (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent letters to Amazon, Walmart, and McDonalds, seeking information about the steps each are taking to ensure that all employees of the companies and their franchisees, subsidiaries, contractors, and subcontractors have access to paid sick leave and adequate health and safety protections during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The senator called on each company to adopt the paid sick leave policy laid out in the Providing Americans Insured Days of Leave Act recently introduced by Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), which would provide all employees with 14 days of emergency paid leave that can be accessed immediately during this public health emergency.

“[A]s one of the largest employers in the United States, you have a responsibility in this escalating public health emergency to act to protect your workers and ensure your company’s policies are not exacerbating a pandemic,” Senator Warren wrote. “It is essential that employees have access to paid time off so that they are not penalized financially for following CDC guidance if they may be sick or seek medical care, or if they need to care for children whose school may be closed, family members who are quarantined or isolated, or if their employer is closed due to coronavirus.”

In her letters, Senator Warren urged that:

·       Paid sick leave policies apply to all employees, including part-time workers, new employees, and those employed by franchisees, subsidiaries, contractors, and subcontractors;

·       Sick leave policies put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic provide flexible documentation requirements to accommodate the CDC’s recommendations for social distancing, which encourage people not to visit medical facilities in person unless they are urgently in need of care; and

·       Each company take all necessary health and safety precautions to protect employees who are at work, including providing additional cleaning supplies and protective equipment, ensuring the adequate staffing levels needed to increase the frequency of cleaning, and ensuring employees working overtime to meet demand have adequate protections.

“I urge you to rise to the imperative of this public health crisis by providing universal, flexible paid leave and adequate health and safety protections for all your employees,” Senator Warren concluded, requesting that each company respond to her letter no later than March 27, 2020.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Warren has pressed the Trump Administration to respond effectively to deliver the robust set of resources needed to address this emergency, including a faster expansion in diagnostic testing, medical supplies and care capacity, and support for state and local governments to be able to help people quickly. A week ago, she put out a plan to respond to the economic hardships brought on by the coronavirus crisis -- proposing at least $750 billion in stimulus money to save our economy and help families. Building on the proposals she laid out, she worked to ensure student loan debt cancellation and a critical increase in Social Security and disability benefits are a core part of the stimulus package Democrats negotiate. Senator Warren was also the first to lay out a detailed list of conditions tied to any taxpayer-funded bailouts, such as requiring companies to keep workers on payroll, implement a $15 minimum wage, permanently ban stock buybacks, prohibit CEO bonuses, and more. Her efforts are focused on ensuring stimulus money reaches the people who need it most in this crisis -- workers and families -- and bringing much-needed structural change to our economy.