Employees Are Furious About This New Whole Foods Policy

In March, as the nationwide shutdowns do to COVID-19 were beginning, Whole Foods employees went on strike demanding more effective safety measures and increased pay (via Refinery 29). Back then, an employee, too frightened to give the Los Angeles Times their name, told the news outlet that workers were "scared to come in," commenting, "we didn't really ask to be at the front lines of this pandemic." Whole Foods responded, upping employees' pay rates by $2 dollars an hour and relaxing its attendance policy to ensure that workers could take time off. 

Now, Whole Foods is changing its policies again. The grocery chain reverted to normal pay in June despite the fact that cases of COVID-19 continued to rise across the country (via AJMC ). But the policy change that has workers and some management in an uproar relates to its modified attendance regulations. Whole Foods' attendance policy is a point system that, per the former policy, was renewed every six months. Under it, employees rack up points for being late or missing work. Once an employee reached six points (within a six month period), they could be fired. 

Although Whole Foods paused its point system between March 3 and June 22, under the supermarket chain's new policy, not only are points being calculated again, but the company added 111 days to the expiration dates of certain points. Employees, as a result, can now be penalized for points accrued before March 3 (via Business Insider). 

How Whole Foods new attendance policy is affecting employees

Whole Foods' policy change has employees up in arms for two reasons. First, while the grocery giant assured both Business Insider and Refinery 29 that they had notified employees before it reinstated its policy, employees deny this. In fact, an anonymous manager told Business Insider that instead of "widely announcing" the extension period for accumulated points, Whole Foods had delegated the task to store managers. "To me, this is a disgusting abuse of the Team Members who have had to struggle through a pandemic," the manager told Business Insider, "This under-the-table change has no honesty or ethics and feels dirty to be a part of."

Second, some Whole Foods workers were caught off guard by the extension and given warnings for accumulating too many points. That's what happened to Amber Schottky, a Chicago-area Whole Foods worker who was recently reprimanded based on accumulating points dating back to mid-December. "It's a slap in the face to everyone who showed up during the height of the pandemic," a Philidelphia-based Whole Foods employee told Business Insider, "to say those hours we came in didn't count — it's completely cruel." 

The manager who talked to Business Insider seconded this sentiment, "I personally was forced to hand out corrective action documents to several of my team members knowing full well that the struggles they were dealing with during the 'pause' were by no means over," they told the news outlet.