On Saturday, March 21, 2020, the world’s leading e-commerce retail company, Amazon.com Inc. (Amazon) announced to raise pay for associates working overtime in its US warehouses. With the rate of coronavirus infection surge in the US and people preferred to stay indoors, the demand for online shopping from consumers is rapidly growing.
The widespread coronavirus has infected more than 274,800 people worldwide and claimed over 11,300 lives globally, which led to forcing governments across the world to follow nationwide lockdowns in a view to containing the spread of the virus epidemic.
Double Pay for Overtime Workers
With the national lockdowns and companies were forced to adopt ‘work-from-home’ policy, the demand for online shopping, especially for essential items and daily used items, has rapidly increased. Among the e-commerce retailers, Amazon recently announced a plan to hire about 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the US since the virus outbreak caused the high demand for online orders.
Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jeff Bezos, who is currently also the world’s richest person, said on Saturday, “My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role.”
A week before, Amazon had announced hiking of the minimum hourly rate for associates to $17 from $15. The company’s latest announcement read that an hourly worker at Amazon’s US warehouses would earn double pay after 40 hours of overtime, which will be an update from the 1.5-times rate, for the duration from March 15 to May 9. Meanwhile, on Thursday, Amazon reported that its first warehouse employee was tested positive for the virus which led to forcing temporarily shut down the facility in New York.
Nevertheless, the company has adopted several preventive measures for the workers to avoid virus transmission among the employees besides offering unlimited unpaid time off to encourage the workers for staying home. New measures such as frequent workers shifts and prohibition of employees from sitting close to one another in the lunchroom were included to prevent the virus spread.
On Friday, a handful of Democratic US senators including Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders questioned Bezos’ policy in a letter by asserting their concerns that Amazon has failed to take enough preventive measures for its warehouse associates. In the letter, they focused on the question of whether the company would provide “time-and-a-half” hazard pay for its workers in the US. Meanwhile, a Senator, Robert Menendez said he appreciated the latest decision of the e-commerce service provider but still needed to do more to ensure employee protection.
Bezos explained his plan on Saturday that Amazon has placed an order of “millions” of face masks for its in-personal workers and claimed that the supply for the masks would be delayed since these masks would go first to hospitals as per the governments’ directions. He stated, “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.”
At present, several clothing retailers and department-store chains have closed their stores while online food service providers have either closed down or continued limited delivery service or take-away.
With the rise of the demand for online retailers and grocery stores due to fear of the virus transmission, the rival retailer, Walmart Inc. (Walmart) announced on Thursday that it would implement a policy to hire 150,000 hourly associates in the US and would be spending $550 million in cash bonuses to reward workers.
I’m Roshan, a journalist, blogger and music lover. I like covering global news related to finance, business, and technology. Focusing on the collection of true and reliable information, I rely on working by conducting interviews with business leaders and talking to the inside sources of companies.
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