Amazon Raises Overtime Pay for Warehouse Workers

March 22, 2020 Updated: March 22, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size said on March 21 it is raising overtime pay for associates working in its U.S. warehouses as the world’s largest online retailer tries to meet the rapidly growing demand for online shopping from consumers stuck at home during the CCP virus outbreak.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, also said on March 21, “My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role,” according to a message posted on a company website.

Hourly workers at Amazon’s U.S. warehouses will receive double pay after 40 hours for overtime, up from the 1.5-times rate, from March 15 through May 9, the rate increase announcement said.

This is the second time the e-commerce giant announced an increase in pay for its workers in a week. Last week, Amazon hiked the minimum hourly rate for associates to $17 from $15 and announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the United States as the virus outbreak boosts online orders.

As the CCP virus spreads across the United States, Amazon has offered unlimited unpaid time off 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.

Bezos said in Saturday’s online post that Amazon has ordered “millions” of protective masks for its on-site staff, but few have been filled because the masks are in low supply and are first going to hospitals at governments’ directions.

“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,” he said.

Amazon last week reported its first warehouse employee in the United States tested positive for the virus, forcing the company to temporarily shutter the facility in New York.

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

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 said on March 10 it plans to hire 150,000 hourly associates in the United States and announced $550 million in cash bonuses to reward workers.

The highly contagious coronavirus has infected and killed thousands globally, forcing governments across the world to issue mass lockdowns of people in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

By Krystal Hu and Rebekah Mathew

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report