Paid Sick Time Becomes Key Issue as Investors Demand Details

A group of investors are pressing companies including Walmart Inc., McDonald’s Corp. and CVS Health Corp. to provide more information about the paid sick leave they provide for their workers, citing their heightened risk of contracting Covid-19.

Letting employees quarantine and recover at home -- while receiving pay -- will help companies prevent outbreaks and store closures, the group said in a statement on Thursday. The investors, who were organized by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, or ICCR, said they filed shareholder resolutions at companies asking for details on how they might adopt paid sick leave.

Four out of 10 hourly paid workers don’t have paid sick leave, the group said, citing Department of Labor statistics. This forces many to choose between going to work sick and infecting others or losing wages.

“Companies are quick to say their workforces are their most valuable assets but it’s tough to believe when they lack such basic protections as paid sick leave,” said Corey Klemmer, director of engagement at Domini Impact Investments, one of the investors who filed resolutions.

Resolutions were also filed to Yum! Brands Inc., Dollar General Corp., Kroger Co., and Kohl’s Corp., the group said. Participating investors include Trillium Asset Management, As You Sow and CtW Investment Group.

Mike DeAngelis, a spokesman for CVS, said the company received the proposal. He said that employees who work at least 30 hours a week, including hourly workers, have always had access to paid sick leave. CVS also provides a 14-day paid sick leave for any employee who tests positive for Covid-19 or needs to be quarantined as a result of potential exposure, he added.

Kroger provides paid sick leave for workers who get the coronavirus, the company said in an email. “We always welcome dialogue with our shareholders on various topics, including our collectively-bargained paid time off policies,” the company said.

The other companies didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.

The ICCR has 300 members including money managers, pension plans and unions, which manage a combined $2 trillion. During the pandemic, the group has urged companies to provide paid leave, prioritize health and safety and retain workers. It has also urged big companies to pay the smaller businesses in their supply chains on time while suspending share buybacks and limiting executive compensation during the pandemic.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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