Walgreens, CVS Join Growing Number of Major Companies Cutting Paid Sick Leave for Unvaccinated Workers

CVS and Walgreens have joined a growing list of major companies in the United States who are cutting paid sick leave for unvaccinated employees who test positive for COVID-19.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) late in December updated its recommendations that people should isolate for five days after a COVID-19 infection, instead of 10, regardless of their vaccination status. The agency similarly shortened the time that close contacts of COVID-19 need to quarantine.

Officials said that the updated guidance was prompted by scientific evidence suggesting that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs early on, within one to two days prior to the onset of symptoms and three days after symptoms emerge.

Since then, a string of companies including Amazon, Delta, Ikea, Kroger, and Walmart have announced they are ending certain benefits for unvaccinated workers in an effort to get more employees to take the shots, in line with a vaccine or test mandate that is set to be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

CVS confirmed to Fortune that paid leave is available only to employees who are vaccinated, approved for a reasonable accommodation, or otherwise covered by local laws.

“In line with changes to CDC guidance, we are currently providing five days of paid leave for eligible full- and part-time colleagues, except where state or city paid leave laws provide for more,” a company spokeswoman said.

Walgreens said it will be providing COVID-19 paid sick leave benefits to both vaccinated and unvaccinated workers for five days through Feb. 23, after which it will only provide those pay benefits to employees who are fully vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exemption.

Prior to the latest announcement, both CVS and Walgreens had offered workers up to two weeks of paid leave.

The Epoch Times has contacted a spokesperson for both CVS and Walgreens for comment.

On Monday, the Biden administration’s vaccination mandate pertaining to private employers went into effect across the nation, despite the rule currently facing multiple legal challenges in the Supreme Court.

As of Jan. 10, 2022, businesses with 100 or more employees are now required to ensure that all employees have been fully vaccinated with either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s, and they must provide paid leave to workers getting the vaccine.

Employers of businesses subject to the mandate must also keep track of workers’ vaccination status via a database, provide employees with their company’s vaccine policy and procedures, and ensure unvaccinated employees wear a mask while indoors.

The rule is set to affect roughly 84 million U.S. workers and businesses that do not comply could face fines of up to $14,000 per violation.

However, the situation has left some businesses unsure as to how to proceed, given that the Supreme Court has yet to make a final decision on the rule which is being challenged by a number of business groups, along with the states of Ohio, Missouri, Louisiana, and more.

In November, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily halted the nationwide implementation of the rule. However, it was reinstated last month after the case was reassigned to the 6th Circuit.

While Supreme Court justices last week appeared to express some skepticism regarding the rule, they did not block the mandate from going into effect on Monday.


Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.

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