Amazon ended the $2 per hour pay increase that was provided to workers who continued to work at warehouses during the stay-at-home orders around the country. The increase came to a halt at the end of May.
Changes in Policy
The company is moving towards a return to normal as more states reopen and restrictions are loosened. Amazon has moved away from a couple of policies it had incorporated to protect those who were coming into work. One was the use of unlimited unpaid time off for those who were afraid to risk being exposed by coming to work. Under this policy, there was no penalties for taking the time off.
According to Amazon, it has paid out around $800 million in additional money to employees since the pandemic began. It also states that its hiring wage is above the competition. The company employs around 250,000 warehouse workers.
Online orders to Amazon surged during the end of the first quarter as more people shopped from home rather than risking the spread of the coronavirus by going to the stores. The company said it had the highest growth in sales for the first quarter of 2020 than for the past three years.
Moving to Normal
Now that things appear to have become more stable for the company, Amazon is making changes to its policies that were introduced within the past few months. One of the most notable is the loss of the temporary raise in pay.
The allowance for more unpaid time off was a big move for Amazon. Normally, the company policy says that if an employee uses more than the 80 hours each year of unpaid time off they are allotted, they could be subject to termination.
Workers still express concern for coming to work in the factories where over 100 cases have been confirmed. Eight workers for Amazon have died from the virus, according to information released in mid-May.
The $2 per hour doesn’t add up to much for most employees, but there are some who benefit from it. However, employees would have qualified for unemployment along with the $600 federal support that continues through July if the warehouses had been closed.
Those who disagree with the change in policy say the hazard pay should continue until masks are no longer needed. In the beginning, the company sent out texts to workers when a positive case was announced in a warehouse.
Now that demand has stabilized for products, managers are offering volunteers to take time off. This is unpaid time off, which is handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Amazon initially hired around 175,000 workers around the world to keep up with the demand.
Critics complain that Amazon hasn’t done enough to protect or reward workers for their efforts during the pandemic. On the other hand, the company has hailed the $800 million spent as proof of their dedication to their staff. However, the crisis is still far from over and many await to see what happens if a surge in cases occur.