What measures has Amazon just announced for its US workers?

By: Sam Mukwamu
Reading Time: 3 minutes



On Saturday, Amazon announced that it is raising overtime pay for associates working in its US warehouses between March 15 and May 9, as the e-commerce giant tries to meet the growing demands placed on it due to the coronavirus.

Amazon warehouse workers in the US will now receive double their hourly rate for every overtime hour worked in a single work week, instead of the 1.5 times rate they currently receive.

In addition, the company announced on March 16 that hourly rates for associates would be increased from US$15 to US$17. The increase in pay will be in effect until the end of April. 

Amazon also announced that it plans to hire 100,000 new full and part-time warehouse and delivery workers in the US to help meet the surge in online orders as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Amazon also encouraged people whose jobs have been affected by the shutdown of businesses, such as those working in restaurants, hospitality and travel, to apply.

“We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back,” Amazon said.

Concern for warehouse workers

Source: Material Handling & Logistics

Beyond dealing with the rising demands, Amazon has had to ensure that staff are protected from the potential spread of the virus in its warehouses. 

Amazon has advised all global employees who work in roles that can be performed from home to work from home until the end of March. It will also offer unlimited unpaid time off to encourage employees to stay home if they do not feel well.

Some employees have raised concerns over what they believe to be a lack of protective measures in warehouses, and four Democratic US senators, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and former candidate Cory Booker, voiced their concern in a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. 

The senators asked Bezos to respond to questions on how Amazon is keeping warehouse workers safe during the coronavirus outbreak.

The letter was sent two days after a warehouse employee at a facility in Queens, New York, tested positive for the virus, forcing the company to temporarily close the facility. This marked the first known case of an employee at a US-based Amazon warehouse testing positive for COVID-19 after the company confirmed that at least five warehouse workers in Spain and Italy had contracted the disease.

Bezos states that facemasks for employees is a “priority”

On Saturday Bezos said in a statement posted on a company website that “millions” of face masks had been ordered for employees, but very few of those orders had been filled because of a shortage in global supply and governments placing clinics and hospitals higher on the priority list.

”It’s easy to understand why the incredible medical providers serving our communities need to be first in line,” Bezos wrote. “When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people.”