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Many businesses continue paying hourly employees despite coronavirus-related closures

Paid sick leave available to hourly workers
Posted at 9:15 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 07:43:05-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Restaurants, retail shops and other businesses are all taking massive hits from the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet some companies, including local establishments, are continuing to pay employees despite cancellations and closures.

At the same time, some large corporations are extending paid sick time to workers who previously had no access to the benefit.

Here's a look at the measures companies are taking during unprecedented times.

Big Tech

Techcrunch reported that the biggest technology companies are stepping up in the face of COVID-19.

Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Google have all committed to pay wages for hourly employees affected by work shortages and stoppages.

Amazon told Axios it would also pay the 10,000 hourly workers that support its Seattle-area office.

While Apple stores are currently closed, the company will continue to pay its hourly workers. It's also providing unlimited paid leave to employees who become sick with cold or flu symptoms similar to COVID-19.

Gig Economy

Andrew McDonald, senior vice president of Rides and Platform for Uber, said in a statement that the uncertainty prompted by the coronavirus is "being felt across the world."

"But we know it's especially concerning for anyone who relies on our platform to make a living," McDonald wrote in the statement on the company's website.

That's why Uber decided to provide financial assistance for up to 14 days for drivers or delivery workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in quarantine by a public health authority. Pay will be based on average daily earnings from the past six months. The policy is effective until April 6.

Lyft announced it also will provide funds to drivers diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under quarantine. Those funds will be based on the rides provided through the platform over the past four weeks.

Similarly, Instacart will offer up to 14 days of pay for any part-time or full-service shopper impacted, while DoorDash will offer the same leave to its drivers.

Postmates announced the creation of a fund that will credit drivers for medical expenses related to COVID-19.

Restaurants and Retail

Walmart waived its attendance policy through the end of April, meaning employees can stay home on unpaid leave if they feel unable to work. If an employee is placed under quarantine, he or she will receive up to two weeks of pay.

Those who test positive for the virus can receive additional pay replacement for up to 26 weeks.

Another large national company, Darden Restaurants, plans to offer paid sick leave to all hourly workers. Darden is the parent company for Olive Garden, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's, Cheddar's, Yard House, Longhorn Steakhouse and Seasons 52. The company said it already was working on such a policy before the COVID-19 crisis.

Meanwhile, Charlie Hustle closed its store on the Plaza on Monday. However, retail employees will be paid during the closure, which is currently scheduled to last until March 29.

"As we navigate this time of uncertainty together, we will continue to do our best to do the right thing and encourage others to do the same," Founder & CEO Chase McAnulty wrote in a message to customers.

The Burger Stand, based in Lawrence, closed its locations on Sunday but committed to paying staff members for two weeks.

"This is one of the weirdest times in our lives," the owners wrote in a Facebook post, "but we know that if we make the right choices now, we can get back to serving our guests and community sooner."

The Rieger announced Monday it would close "for conventional services," but the restaurant will create a community kitchen open for to-go meals only from 4-6 p.m. daily. The kitchen will operate on a "pay as you're able" basis, and any money received will go to hourly staff.