Monday, April 06, 2020
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With online shopping spiking, Amazon raises overtime pay

Amazon.com Inc has said it is raising overtime pay for associates working in its United States warehouses, as the world's largest online retailer tries to meet the rapidly growing demand for online shopping from consumers stuck at home owing to the coronavirus outbreak.

Hourly workers at the warehouses will receive double pay after 40 hours for overtime, up from the 1.5-times rate, from March 15 to May 9, the announcement said on Saturday.

"All hourly associates working in the US Ops network will receive double their regular hourly rate for every overtime hour worked in a workweek," the company said in a statement. "This temporary increased overtime pay is effective March 15, 2020 and will continue through May 9, 2020."

This is the second time the e-commerce giant announced an improvement in pay for its workers in a week. On Monday, Amazon had increased the hourly rate for associates to $17 from $15 and announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the US as the virus outbreak boosts online orders.

As the virus spreads across the US, Amazon has offered unlimited time off without pay to encourage employees to stay home if they do not feel well. It has also staggered workers' shifts and prohibited employees from sitting next to each other in the lunchroom to limit contact.

But four Democratic US senators, including Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders, on Friday expressed concern in a letter to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos that Amazon has not taken enough measures to protect its warehouse staff. They specifically asked if the company would provide "time-and-a-half" hazard pay for its workers. 

Amazon on Thursday reported its first warehouse employee in the US tested positive for the virus, forcing the company to temporarily shutter a warehouse in New York.

As the virus spreads across the US, several clothing retailers and department-store chains have shut stores and cafe and restaurant operators have closed down or limited services to delivery and takeaway.

Online retailers and grocery stores are trying to capture rising demand as more Americans are ordered to stay at home to reduce the spread of the outbreak.

Rival retailer Walmart Inc said on Thursday it plans to hire 150,000 hourly associates in the US and announced $550m in cash bonuses to reward workers.

The highly contagious coronavirus has infected nearly 300,000 people across the world and led to almost 12,800 deaths globally forcing governments across the world to issue mass lockdowns in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

SOURCE: Reuters news agency

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