The company is looking to add extra full-time and part-time positions for warehouse and delivery workers. Through the end of April, it will raise pay for these employees by $2 per hour in the U.S., £2 per hour in the UK, and approximately €2 per hour in many EU countries. Amazon currently pays $15 per hour or more in some areas of the U.S. for warehouse and delivery jobs.
Amazon encouraged employees in other industries whose jobs were "lost or furloughed" as a result of the coronavirus to apply, including members of the hospitality, restaurant and travel industries. "We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back," the company added.
The decision comes as the coronavirus outbreak has continued to worsen. As of Monday afternoon, there were more than 181,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus globally, and at least 7,113 deaths. There were at least 4,281 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. and at least 74 deaths.
Amazon has been hit with a wave of delivery delays and product shortages. The continued spread of the coronavirus has meant consumers are increasingly relying on online retailers as they avoid going outdoors and face low inventory at physical stores.
On Saturday, Amazon said some popular brands and items in the "household staples" categories were out of stock, while some of its "delivery promises are longer than usual." Amazon added a notice to the top of its marketplace this weekend that reads: "Inventory and delivery may be temporarily unavailable due to increased demand. Confirm availability at checkout."
Meanwhile, a quick scan for in-demand items like toilet paper and bottled water showed that many listings were out of stock. Amazon's normally speedy one-day and two-day delivery options for Prime customers also showed delays of several days. After adding an item to the shopping basket, Amazon said the order would arrive within four days.
Amazon has faced increased demand from customers on multiple fronts amid the coronavirus outbreak. With shoppers stocking up online, services like Prime Now and the Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service reported limited availability for several days or told shoppers they were unable to make deliveries.
The company has been working to avoid disruptions in its supply chain, while some factories in China and elsewhere remain offline. Third-party sellers have also been working to keep up with demand, with many saying their inventory is running low.
Additionally, some fulfillment center employees may not be showing up to work. Earlier this month, Amazon relaxed its attendance policy for warehouse workers, allowing them to take unlimited unpaid time off through the month of March.
Earlier this month, Amazon moved to address the unique needs of fulfillment centers and delivery by launching a $25 million relief fund. The "Amazon Relief Fund" will allow these employees to apply for grants that are equal to or up to two weeks of pay if they're diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The company has also taken extra precautions at fulfillment centers, increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning at all of its sites and requiring that employees sanitize and clean their work stations and vehicles at the start and end of every shift.
Last week, Amazon advised global employees who are able to work from home to do so through the end of March. The directive applies to employees at Amazon's corporate offices.