• Apple says hourly and retail employees with novel coronavirus symptoms can take unlimited time off. 
  • Apple will not penalize employees for taking time off, and will not require a doctor’s note or any proof. 
  • Coronavirus cases in the United States have passed 700, but fears of a larger pandemic loom large. 
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Apple is reacting to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States by offering employees — including retail and hourly workers — unlimited sick leave for symptoms associated with a COVID-19 infection. As 9to5Mac reports, employees will not be penalized for taking time off to self-quarantine if they fall ill, providing a bit of peace of mind for employees affected by the outbreak.

The news comes on the heels of a memo sent by Tim Cook telling Apple office workers around the world that they are welcome to work from home if they can do their jobs remotely. Apple Store locations have remained open throughout the outbreak, though it’s now clear that the company won’t penalize workers for taking as much time off as they need if they do come down with something.

The coronavirus situation in California, which Apple calls home, has evolved rapidly at times, with new confirmed cases being reported in bunches. As of the last update, nearly 150 confirmed cases are on the books, and at least two people have died as a result of the COVID-19 infection.

The United States has passed 700 confirmed cases, though the true number of infections is likely much higher, as it can take weeks for symptoms to develop and individuals can spread the virus even during the lengthy incubation period. It’s impossible to predict how the outbreak will affect any retailer, including Apple Store locations, but the company is obviously taking a proactive approach and putting its policies in place before things get out of hand.

Also of note, Apple will not require any employees to submit documentation confirming their illness in order to take time off. The company is using the honor system here, trusting employees to be responsible with their decisions to take time off without penalty. Like any other retailer, Apple may eventually have to grapple with the decision of whether or not to temporarily close its stores entirely, especially if employees become ill in larger numbers.

The United States and many European countries have gotten rather lucky thus far, with isolated cases of coronavirus infection. Others, like Italy, have been forced to make the decision to lock down as more and more confirmed infections pile up. Nobody really knows when or how this will end, and health officials have already noted that we’re in uncharted territory with this particular virus. If you’re in an area with many confirmed cases, keeping clean (washing hands, using sanitizer) is even more important, but avoiding large gatherings and taking basic precautions is good advice no matter where you are right now.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech. Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today, Time.com, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.