The shift comes just a few days after four senators wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos calling for him to establish sick leave and time -and-a-half hazard pay for fulfillment center workers. Last week, Amazon said it would raise pay for warehouse workers and delivery drivers by $2 per hour through the end of April.
Starting Friday, Amazon's “unlimited time off policy” for workers is coming to an end, and warehouse employees who want to stay home out of concerns they will catch COVID-19 will have to apply for a leave of absence. Many feel exposed because of the nature of their jobs, which can require coming into contact with hundreds of people every day.
But it has resisted making paidtimeoff universal, saying that workers afraid of getting sick or needing to care for ill family members can take unlimited unpaid time off. “Workers aren't even clear on the rules,” said Hausa Hassan, who works in an Amazon fulfillment center in Shape, Minnesota.
Rachel Belt, who works in a fulfillment center in West Dept ford, New Jersey, said she's been home on unpaid leave since late March because she worries about infecting several high-risk people she lives with, including her young son. Belt hasn't been able to apply for a leave of absence, despite trying multiple times, she said on a call organized by several workers' rights groups.
Jordan Flowers, who works in a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, said his facility only made hand sanitizer available in the main break room, meaning it takes time to walk over to get it. The conditions are exacerbated as Amazon hires more and more people to keep up with the demands on its delivery system, making the facilities even more crowded, she said.
“Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer are already standard across our network, and the procurement teams have worked tirelessly to create new sources of supply to keep these critical items flowing,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. Billie Jo Rama, a worker at an Amazon fulfillment center in Romulus, Michigan, said she worried about returning to work after having been sick for almost a month with symptoms resembling COVID-19.
Workers who go on leave remain employees, but they aren't guaranteed their position back when they return unless specifically required by law, CNBC reported. Afterwards you will stop accruing, however, you continue to receive 1.5 hours of vacation throughout the whole year per pay period (bi-weekly).
In the Inland Empire region outside Los Angeles, Amazon workers told the Guardian they fear losing their jobs if they are ill and stay home. They would forgo wages, but if they were concerned about their safety or had new childcare responsibilities due to lockdowns, they could stay home without losing their jobs.
They worry the reversal will result in sick and vulnerable people showing up for shifts because they can’t risk termination. The health concerns are particularly serious in the Inland Empire, which has some of the worst air quality in the US and disproportionately high rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
The 27-year-old, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, recovered from pneumonia last year and is at high risk of serious complications if they contract COVID-19. Photograph: Rework Djansezian/Getty Images Inland Empire, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, was once home to the west coast’s largest steel plant, a major air force base and an agricultural economy.
Today, the historically rural area is a hub for distribution centers and the logistics industry, with huge warehouses for Amazon, UPS, Walmart and other retailers. The sector has added more than 50,000 jobs over the last decade as e-commerce has boomed, but a majority of families in the region don’t earn enough to make ends meet.
On 16 April, the California governor, Gavin Newsom, passed an executive order providing food sector workers two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave if they have to isolate due to Covid-19 concerns. Amazon warehouses in the industrial neighborhoods of San Bernardino and Riverside counties handle a wide range of packages, including food items.
But employees say that when they have asked about Newsom’s order in recent weeks, the human resources department has ignored their questions or responded that the facilities are not considered part of the food sector. The 27-year-old worker with a history of pneumonia works at a sort center and has been responsible for helping package a range of pantry food items.
When they asked HR about the paid sick leave law for food workers, the company directed them to steps they could take to request unpaid time off. The company says in addition to the time off it provided before the coronavirus pandemic, it now gives two weeks of paidtimeoff for infected employees and those presumed to have Covid-19.
A San Bernardino worker in her 40s, who has two children with asthma, said she was terrified of getting them sick but would not stop working: “Necessity is bigger than my fear. Amazon confirmed that it had ended its unlimited unpaid time off policy, but the company says it continues to allow the option on a case-by-case basis.
Infections are going to spike indefinitely,” said the worker, who has a baby and lives with his two older parents, who both have a range of health issues. Hard, the Amazon spokeswoman, said the company was “encouraging those who are unwell to stay home and taking extreme measures to keep people safe in our buildings”.
I helped HR out a few times these past few weeks and it’s blatantly obvious that they don’t respect us. But as soon as a manger comes around (or someone else from HR) their tone of voice COMPLETELY changes, and they act all bubbly and happy.
I used to be an administrative assistant III (aka Learning Coordinator). I basically had a somewhat desk job, but I was very independent and got to choose how I approach each day without any micromanagement.
Fast-forward 6 months after I quit and I got rehired as a T1 picker a few weeks ago. I forgot what its like to speak to someone, and they straight up give you a weird look and then go back to what they were doing.
I was hired as a picker and I had no idea the strain my body was going to be put under. I have had to leave early the past two days as I was unable to even walk due to the blisters and pain in my feet.
Don't be afraid to invest in a good pair of shoes and give them time to break-in. Amazon has taken huge steps in keeping up with employee comfort and moral.
But was unsure of whether it was actually a rule (that's a problem, bosses that don't know company policy). Lastly, their scanner gun application, as an IST major who has studied Interface Design, User Experience Design, and how they are to imitate, facilitate, and ease the performance of business processes, is one of the most shoddy, difficult, and impractical professionally-made or corporate applications I have ever used.
On the flip side, they're really lenient with vacation time usage, fair break times, and their PIT training has you dive in head-first in a safe environment, pretty cool. Learn good body mechanics and Check out New Balance shoes.
You will pay for a lifetime for the care you take of your feet and back. I recently paid more for a pair of these shoes than I paid for the last car I bought(used, many years ago) and don't regret one cent of it. Tell your boss what you are doing about having to leave work early. Jobs are precious. If you cannot afford the shoes reply to me, and we'll see what we can work out.