The coronavirus pandemic is not over, but Amazon this week ended some of the emergency incentives it introduced to encourage its 250,000 warehouse staffers to come into work.
The retail giant initially struggled to cope with a sudden spike in online orders brought on by coronavirus lockdowns around the world, and during its first-quarter earnings call the company announced it had seen its highest sales growth in over three years. But three months into lockdown, Amazon seems to have gotten a handle on its operations.
As its supply chain steadies, the company is reversing policies introduced earlier in 2020 to protect its workers from the coronavirus fallout. Even as these measures fall away, the virus continues to spread inside Amazon’s warehouses in Europe and in the US, staffers say.
On Monday, Amazon eliminated one of the policies brought in to reward frontline workers for continuing to come into work during the crisis — a $2-an-hour rise in pay. The wage rise was always temporary, and the company announced earlier in May that its $2 hazard pay would finish at the end of the month.
In April, it phased out a second policy of allowing workers to take unlimited unpaid time off to allow them to stay home if they felt unsafe coming to work. This was an extraordinary move for the retail giant, since before the pandemic workers told Business Insider that using more than your allotted amount of unpaid time off (80 hours a year) could result in immediate termination.
The US remains one of the worst-hit countries globally by the pandemic, with more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 105,000 deaths. While the growth rate of the virus appears to have stabilized, experts have warned that smaller outbreaks can still arise across the country.
As of mid-May, eight Amazon workers were confirmed to have died, and more than 100 warehouses have confirmed cases, according to news reports. The company has consistently refused to publish official figures on exactly how many of its employees are confirmed to have tested positive for the virus.
Business Insider spoke with six Amazon workers about the return to normal pay amid abnormal conditions. All requested anonymity for fear of retaliation from the company.
Source: Business Insider