Whole Foods is facing some serious backlash this week over some internal communications that outlined the company’s protocol as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the email, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey told employees they have the option to receive unlimited, unpaid time off throughout the month of March, while those who test positive for the deadly disease can receive two weeks of paid sick leave.
That leads to the obvious question: What about employees who need more than 14 days off, but can’t afford to do so without getting paid? Mackey let employees know they have the option to “donate” their paid time off to coworkers directly affected by the coronavirus….and that’s where the controversy begins.
“Team Members who have a medical emergency or death in their immediate family can receive donated PTO hours,” Mackey reportedly wrote in the email, “not only from Team Members in their own location, but also from Team Members across the country.”
This is the suggestion that sparked outrage across social media, with many pointing out the fact that Whole Foods is a subsidiary of Amazon, which just so happens to be owned by one of the richest men in the world, Jeff Bezos.
“Considering [Whole Foods] is a billion dollar company, I think it is selfish asking the retail workers to figure it out within themselves,” a Whole Foods cashier told Motherboard, while staying anonymous. “The response from [Whole Foods and Amazon] has been quite poor, being a front end cashier I feel like we are the most exposed to the situation … Some of us have sick family members [whose] immune system is weak and [it] could be quite dangerous if they catch this virus.”
A spokesperson for Amazon addressed the controversy in a statement to Business Insider, saying the PTO donation policy was implemented before they acquired Whole Foods.
“Amazon is matching all funds to the Whole Foods Fund since the acquisition to support the team needs during this unprecedented event,” the spokesperson said. “All Whole Foods team members have access to the two-weeks paid time off related to coronavirus that was announced for all Amazon employees.”