Hobby Lobby Clarifies Coronavirus Sick Leave Policy Amid Accusations

Hobby Lobby in Mansfield, Ohio. Photo by Nicholas Eckhart/Creative Commons

Hobby Lobby says it does allow employees to take paid time off if sick amid the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, despite criticism to the contrary, and will offer some pay to employees in the event of a store closure.

However, it remains to be seen whether the company will amend its policies to provide additional relief for workers who contract COVID-19, as some other companies have done.

The retail giant told Religion New Service in a statement that it provides both “vacation benefits and personal paid time off benefits to employees.”

“Personal paid time off benefits can generally be used for sick leave or other needs,” a statement from the company said.

Claims that the company was denying employees sick leave sparked frustration among some religious communities. The advocacy group Faithful America launched an online petition criticizing Hobby Lobby CEO David Green for “refusing to show the same decency” as other companies that have offered “employees enough paid sick leave for coronavirus treatment.”

As of Tuesday afternoon (March 31), the petition had accrued more than 15,000 signatures.

On March 23, Randy Betts, Hobby Lobby’s vice president of store operations, reportedly wrote an internal memo in which he stated that the company “is going to make every effort to continue working the employees” and that sick workers would either need to exhaust all paid time off and vacation time, or take an “unpaid leave of absence until further notice.”

The memo, which was first reported by Business Insider, followed a separate letter addressed to employees by Green, who founded the company.

In the letter, Green, who is an evangelical Christian, reportedly stated that God offered guidance to his wife during prayer and that while Hobby Lobby employees may need to “tighten our belts” in the near future, “God is in control” and “will guide us through this storm.”

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Source: Religion News Service