Amazon employee reports needing doctor’s note for sick time during COVID-19 pandemic

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – As state leaders urge people to “stay home, stay safe” — with many businesses shut down or most employees working remotely — those at Salt Lake’s Amazon fulfillment center continue to work.

Two employees, who asked not to be named, expressed concerns to their superior about a fellow employee testing positive for COVID-19. 

One employee asked for sick time, and her supervisor wrote this:

“…we advice you to open a medical leave of absence by calling the ERC {Employee Resource Center} if you are not feeling well and provide the leave team documentation from your doctor that states the time of you need off to recover…”

It went on:

“Medical LOA would need to be 7 consecutive days of to be approved.”

(ABC4 did not correct spelling or grammar from that email)

But Lt. Governor Spencer Cox says doctor’s notes are not appropriate during this pandemic.

“Please do not require a doctor’s note to come back to work, to leave work,” said Cox.

“That adds to our — the burden of our health care providers. And that’s something we desperately want to avoid. They’re busy enough, working with very sick individuals, and working to help us end this pandemic.  The last thing they need is frivolous doctor’s notes,” added Cox.

ABC4 asked the Utah Dept. of Health what obligation an employer has to inform employees of a positive case after another Amazon employee told ABC4 about concerns regarding the positive case.

“Whenever public health learns of a positive COVID-19 case — and we are required to know about all positive COVID-19 cases — we investigate all close contacts. And that includes business and employer contacts as well. And we work directly with employers to give them recommendations and guidance on how to clean their business place and also how to notify and allow people who were close contacts to be on home quarantine for two weeks. And so anybody who has been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, public health would reach out to them directly,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist.

The superior did write to the employee that efforts to keep the fulfillment center clean and sanitary are constant: “We are doing all we can to continuously sanitize common ares daily,” adding, ‘We hope  you feel better and appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.”

Editor’s Note: After this story was originally published, Amazon sent ABC4 the following statement: “On requiring physical documentation from a doctor: On a case-by-case basis, Amazon is working with employees to gather the information we need to approve extra time off with pay for quarantine and/or diagnosis of COVID.  Because we are continually revisiting policies to ensure the safety of our employees, going forward, this information may include self-report of patterns of symptoms and exposure, particularly when the employee cannot obtain medical certification at all. 

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