The Detroit Post
Sunday, 17 October, 2021

Do Amazon Use Zero Hours Contracts

David Lawrence
• Monday, 19 October, 2020
• 7 min read

Mark Wright×, a supervisor at an Amazon depot, had called in a delivery driver to cover an absent colleague’s shift. Wright left his job a few weeks later, citing the intolerable demands placed on drivers by the depot rules.

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However, the online giant is accused of profiting on the back of its depot workers, who complain of poor pay, long hours and risky conditions with no employment benefits. They report shifts of 12 hours or more on zerohourscontracts, unpaid overtime and penalties for failing to meet onerous targets.

They claim long, unpredictable hours and transport costs mean that pay can amount to less than the minimum wage. “I was shown an online contract on a mobile phone to read and sign at an induction day and it was only when the paperwork came through that I realized I’d committed to working without pay until I’d clocked up £1,500, which they retained as a deposit,” he says.

According to Dawson, the length of the routes and the number of parcels made it impossible to complete the job in a nine-hour shift. “Sometimes in country lanes you’d lose signal for your Dora and you’d be lost in the middle of nowhere, peeing into a plastic bottle because there was no chance to take a break,” he says.

Although shifts are advertised as a maximum of four hours, she claims they can take longer as the number of parcels and length of the routes are increasing. Flex drivers are paid overtime, but this year, she says, it was halved to £6.50 an hour which, when fuel and tolls are factored in, can mean working at a loss.

The GMB argues the drivers are legally employees because of the terms of their contracts and should therefore be entitled employment benefits such as paid sick and holiday leave. Last year, UK Express Logistics and its sister company UK Express Delivery settled out of court as the union brought a case demanding employment rights on behalf of a group of drivers contracted to deliver Amazon parcels.

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Amazon says its technology takes into account traffic conditions and expected rest breaks when assigning routes to ensure that drivers can complete their deliveries safely within a shift. We are committed to ensuring that the people contracted by our independent delivery providers and individuals who deliver packages through the Amazon Flex program are fairly compensated and are treated with respect, and this is reflected by the positive feedback we receive from drivers every day.

He is the largest shareholder in the company that began in 1994 as an online bookseller but eventually grew into a globally dominant all-purpose retailer. Earlier this month, it emerged that MacKenzie Bezos, now the ex-wife of Jeff (both are pictured), gave away 75% of her stake in the company and all voting rights to the billionaire entrepreneur as part of their divorce settlement.

The settlement means that Amazon will be spared the kind of boardroom battle that has plagued other companies whose owners are dealing with family rifts. Working four days in a row without sleep; a woman with breast cancer being put on “performance-improvement plans” together with another who had just had a stillborn child; staff routinely bursting into tears; continual monitoring; workers encouraged to turn on each other to keep their jobs.

A woman suffering from breast cancer was also put on the plan, as she was told “difficulties” in her “personal life” were interfering with her work. Molly Jay, who worked in the Kindle team, said she was given high performance ratings for years until she started caring for her father when he was dying of cancer.

A worker who miscarried twins went on a business trip the day after having surgery when her boss allegedly told her: “I’m sorry, the work is still going to need to get done. Former Amazon engineer Jason Murkowski, 42, said: “The sheer number of innovations means things go wrong, you need to rectify, and then explain, and heaven help if you got an email from Jeff.

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Other former staff, including BO Olson, who worked at Amazon in a book-marketing role for less than two years, said they regularly witnessed people in tears in the office. Dina NASCAR, who joined Amazon in 2008 to sell gift cards, said: “One time I didn’t sleep for four days straight.

Stephanie Landry, an operations executive, sounded “exhilarated”, The New York Times said, as she described how she helped set up a new delivery system. Such attitudes are forged by practices such as the organization level review, which was described as a “semi-open tournament” akin to a court case in which managers debate their staff’s performance, with the worst losing their jobs in a process known as “rank and yank”.

A marketer who worked in the retail division for six years said: “You learn how to diplomatically throw people under the bus… It’s a horrible feeling.” Robin Andrulevich, a former Amazon human resources executive, described the turnover of staff at the company as “purposeful Darwinism”.

And Susan Parker, Amazon ’s top recruiter, who was given permission to speak to The New York Times, said the support she had received when her husband got cancer “took my breath away”. Nicola Smith, head of economic and social affairs at the TUC, the British union body, said such working conditions were “extremely detrimental to employee health and productivity”.

In 2013 Channel 4 News found GPS tags were fitted to staff and talking to colleagues could lead to dismissal. In 2014 Tim McKinney, an American street pastor who worked for two months at Amazon ’s warehouse in Undermine to assess claims of poor conditions told The Sun that the company used “fear and intimidation” on staff.


Amazon said at the time that employees were treated with “dignity and respect”, adding: “We are proud of providing a safe and positive workplace.” Internet retailer Amazon employs hundreds of staff on controversial zero -hour contracts subjecting them to harsh working conditions where they wear tags, so they can be tracked by bosses, it has been revealed.

Employees working under the contracts are not guaranteed any income but are still subjected to an employment regime that sees them walking up to 15 miles during a shift, while their toilet breaks are monitored and timed. Terms: Employees working under the contracts are subjected to an employment regime that sees them walking up to 15 miles during a shift.

Use of zero -hour contracts has thrived despite calls for them to be banned, with the Office for National Statistics saying that 250,000 British workers were employed in this way at the end of last year by a range of firms, including Sports Direct and even Buckingham Palace. Former staff at Amazon ’s warehouse in Hugely, Stafford shire, said they were hired for 12 weeks before being sacked and re-employed so that the company did not have to give them the same rights as full-time employees.

Channel 4 News spoke to a dozen ex-employees at Amazon ’s massive packing warehouse in Hugely, east Midlands, who were angry at how the internet sales giant treated them. They said Amazon made them work long hours with minimal breaks, and laid off temporary staff to avoid giving them the same benefits and rights as permanent workers.

“We continue to listen to feedback from associates, as well as customers, in order to learn, innovate and improve and are proud of being part of the Hugely community.” Amazon has invested more than £9.3 billion in its UK Operations since 2010 and has a dedicated and enthusiastic workforce who play a crucial role in delivering a first-rate level of service for our customers.

This year Amazon has pledged to create 2,500 new permanent roles across the country, bringing its full time workforce to 27,500, at its UK Head Office in London; three Development Centers in Cambridge, Edinburgh and London; its Customer Service Center in Edinburgh; fulfillment centers across England, Scotland and Wales; more than 40 delivery stations nationwide; the Fashion Photography Studio in Shore ditch, and to run the Amazon Web Services (AWS) UK Data Center Region. People are employed in a range of positions in Amazon ’s fulfillment centers, from operations managers to engineers, HR and IT roles to employees who handle customer orders.

Our European network means that Amazon customers in the UK can choose from millions of products stored in our fulfillment centers across Europe. The minimum wage is £10.50 for the London area and £9.50 for the rest of the UK for all full-time, part-time, temporary (including those hired by agencies), and seasonal employees.

Employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package, including private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, subsidized meals and an employee discount, which combined are worth more than £700 annually, as well as a company pension plan. Amazon has also introduced Career Choice, an innovative education program which prepays 95% of tuition and associated fees for permanent employees to undertake nationally recognized courses and funds up to £8,000 over four years.

Outside the Christmas period, the majority of our total UK fulfillment center workforce is made up of permanent employees. This shift pattern helps us improve our ability to provide fast delivery for our customers and gives employees another day for free time and social activities.

We continually monitor our practices and procedures to improve health and safety in our sites and focus continually on reducing risk, increasing consistency, improving systems and providing our employees with the skills they can use within and outside our business. Safety is one of the reasons LinkedIn recently ranked Amazon #7 on its UK Top Companies list.

Productivity targets are set objectively, based on previous performance levels achieved by our workforce. Employee performance is measured and evaluated over a long period of time as we know that a variety of things could impact the ability to meet expectations in any given day or hour.

We continuously work to streamline our processes and eliminate defects, and we empower all our employees to innovate to help achieve this. We use many systematic methods to make work processes easier and more efficient, including the “Kaiden” program, derived from the Japanese term meaning “change for the better”.

In every fulfillment center, management spend an hour every day carrying out a ‘Gemma Walk’. This enables management to hear from employees directly as they review every area and process in the fulfillment center.

Management and employees then work together to decide and prioritize outcomes from the Gemma Walk displaying these on a noticeboard to clearly communicate next steps.

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