Exclusive: Amazon increases the overtime pay for warehouse workers

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc said Saturday that it is increasing overtime pay for employees working in its U.S. warehouses, as the world’s largest online retailer tries to meet the rapidly growing demand for online purchases by consumers stuck at home during the coronavirus epidemic.

FILE PHOTO: the Amazon logo is seen in front of the diplayed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in this illustration taken on March 19, 2020. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / Photo file

Hourly workers in warehouses will receive double pay after 40 overtime hours, up from the 1.5-fold rate from March 15 to May 9, the announcement said.

“All hourly workers working in the US Ops network will receive twice their regular hourly rate for each hour of overtime worked in a week of work,” the company said in a statement. “This temporary increase in extraordinary wages is effective from March 15, 2020 and will continue until May 9, 2020.”

This is the second time that the e-commerce giant has announced an improvement in wages for its workers in a week. On Monday, Amazon raised the hourly membership fee to $ 17 from $ 15 an hour and announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse workers and delivery workers in the United States as the virus outbreak increases online orders.

As the virus spreads to the United States, Amazon has offered unpaid unlimited free time to encourage employees to stay home if they are not feeling well. He also staggered work shifts and banned employees from sitting next to each other in the dining room to limit contacts.

But four U.S. Democratic senators, including Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders, expressed concern in a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday that the world’s largest online retailer has not taken sufficient measures to protect its warehouse staff. They asked in particular if the company would provide “time and a half” compensation for its employees. {NL1N2BE02N]

Amazon reported on Thursday that its first employee in the United States tested positive for the virus, forcing the company to temporarily close a warehouse in New York.

As the virus spreads to the United States, numerous clothing retailers and department store chains have closed stores and bar and restaurant operators have closed or limited delivery and takeaway services.

Online retailers and grocery stores are trying to capture the growing demand as more Americans are forced to stay home to reduce the spread of the epidemic.

The rival retailer Walmart Inc said Thursday that it plans to hire 150,000 coworkers per hour in the United States and has announced $ 550 million in cash bonuses to reward workers.

The highly contagious coronavirus has infected over 274,800 people worldwide and has caused over 11,300 deaths worldwide forcing governments around the world to issue mass blockades of people in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

Reporting from Krystal Hu in New York and Rebekah Mathew in Bangalore; Editing by Kenneth Li and Diane Craft

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