Walmart halves COVID-19 paid leave after CDC trims isolation guidance

Employees sick longer than a week may be eligible for additional pay replacement

Walmart has halved its coronavirus-related paid leave after federal health officials shortened the isolation period for some Americans.  

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Under Walmart's updated COVID-19 emergency leave policy, employees who have been mandated to quarantine or have tested positive for COVID-19 will get up to one week of paid leave through March 31, 2022. 

Previously, Walmart employees were given two weeks of paid leave. 


The retailer says the change in policy, which was shared with employees through a corporate memo, better aligns with the updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which cut isolation restrictions for asymptomatic Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine. 

Walmart store

This file photo shows the entrance to a Walmart in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File / AP Newsroom)

For the past two years, Walmart has developed coronavirus-related policies for customers and employees in coordination with CDC guidance. 

However, there are exceptions to the company's updated policy regarding paid leave. According to Walmart's policy, employees who have contracted COVID-19 and are unable to return to work after the week may be eligible for additional pay for up to 26 weeks. 


CDC officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop. The decision also was driven by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, propelled by the omicron variant.  

Meanwhile, in an effort to keep employees safe, Walmart employees will continue to be required to complete a daily health screen before entering a Walmart facility, according to a memo sent to employees. 

"The daily health screen questions will be updated to reflect the changes from the CDC regarding if an associate has received a positive COVID-19 test, has COVID-related symptoms or exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the previous five days instead of 10 days (or following local mandates)" the memo read. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.