Amazon raises overtime pay for warehouse workers

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By Krystal Hu and Rebekah Mathew

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (O:) said on Saturday 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 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.

“All hourly associates working in the U.S. 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 hiked the 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 virus spreads across the United States, Amazon has offered unlimited unpaid time off to encourage employees to stay home if they don’t 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 U.S. senators, including Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders on Friday expressed concern in a letter to Amazon’s Chief Executive Jeff Bezos that the world’s largest online retailer 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. {nL1N2BE02N]

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

As the 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 Inc (N:) said on Thursday it plans to hire 150,000 hourly associates in the U.S. and announced $550 million in cash bonuses to reward workers.

The highly contagious coronavirus has infected more than 274,800 people across the world and led to more than 11,300 deaths globally forcing governments across the world to issue mass lockdowns of people in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

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