Whole Foods Asked Team Members To Share PTO After Hurricane Ian

In September, Hurricane Ian wreaked destruction across Florida, South Carolina, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, among other places. Over 2.5 million residents were left without power, while severe flooding was seen throughout all areas affected (via PBS). 

In advance of the Category 4 storm's impact, many stores took respectful actions to help both employees and last-minute shoppers prepare for the detrimental effects that were to come. A variety of grocery stores prepared for Hurricane Ian by adjusting their hours. Additionally, some 200 Walmart locations closed down completely throughout Florida and Georgia (via Walmart Tech). Even Waffle House — known to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – closed dozens of its locations between Tampa and Orlando (via USA Today).

Now that the storm has passed, many communities are trying to rebuild what was lost. Flooding severely damaged or completely destroyed countless homes, businesses, supermarkets, and more. You would think that businesses would have some sense of empathy for those affected by a national crisis. Well, it sadly appears that is not actually true of all businesses. 

No free PTO at Whole Foods

Imagine your whole house and neighborhood getting destroyed and your employer is still asking you to come in. Believe it or not, a number of Whole Foods employees on Reddit are claiming that the company is doing just that. In fact, these employees say "America's Healthiest Grocery Store" is resorting to a rather peculiar plan for a paid-time-off (PTO) policy. 

Redditors claim the corporation is asking employees around the United States to "donate" their own personal paid time off and give it to those affected by Hurricane Ian. A similar thread on the r/LateStageCapitalism subreddit shows a screenshot of a Whole Foods employee's profile screen, in which the company asks employees to donate their paid time off.

More than a few Whole Foods employees were quick to comment on the issue. "I had to use up all of my PTO to cover time missed from Hurricane Ian, and it was not enough," u/Chlostaroni wrote. "Our home has damage, we have no power or water. I have no idea how I'm going to pay my bills this month." This user also admitted that they were appalled when they realized they would not be receiving disaster pay. 

In another reply, an employee shared their disappointment with the company's entire approach to the disaster. "Our store was in the path of Hurricane Ian and we had to wait until Wednesday morning to know if we were going to be closed on that day," u/Dangerous_Penalty_18 wrote. "Pretty sad that a huge company that made tons off this storm couldn't help their workers a little more."

Notably, this isn't the first time Whole Foods has employed such a strategy. According to Insider, CEO John Mackey similarly advised employees to "donate" their paid time off to coworkers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.