By Siddharth Cavale and Richa Naidu

(Reuters) – Walmart Inc will now provide up to one week of paid time-off if a worker contracts COVID-19, instead of its earlier policy for up to two weeks, according to a memo seen by Reuters.

The memo sent on Tuesday to U.S. hourly associates and long-haul drivers states that COVID-19 positive workers and those required to quarantine – by Walmart, a health care provider or a government agency – will be eligible for paid time off for one work week, based on their average pay over the past 26 pay periods.

The ‘COVID-19 Absences and Emergency Leave’ policy is an update to guidance issued on Dec. 1, 2021, which stated that it would provide workers with up to 2 weeks of paid leave.

Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States with 1.6 million workers, is among the first major retailers to reduce paid leave for COVID-19, and could serve as a bellwether for other major employers.

A Walmart spokesperson confirmed the COVID-leave policy change. The spokesperson added that Walmart was also asking corporate employees to continue to primarily work from home until Jan. 30, even though offices would remain open. The company had previously asked workers to work virtually until Jan. 10.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended last week that people isolate for five days after a COVID-19 infection, instead of 10 days.

(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru and Richa Naidu in Chicago; Editing by Nick Zieminski)