Tech

Amazon gives part-time warehouse workers paid time off after a group of them fought for it

Key Points
  • Amazon said Monday that all part-time and seasonal delivery workers can now apply for paid time off.
  • Employee advocacy groups had been pressuring Amazon to provide these benefits since last year.
  • It comes as legislators and workers have called out Amazon for failing to provide paid leave.
An Amazon warehouse
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Amazon is offering paid time off for thousands of warehouse employees after workers pushed for the benefits.

The company said Monday that all part-time and seasonal delivery employees are eligible to apply for paid time off, effective now. Employees can accrue paid time off retroactively to March 1.

With the policy change, part-time delivery employees can now take paid time off if they would prefer not to come into work in light of the coronavirus outbreak. An Amazon spokesperson declined to say what percentage of warehouse workers are part-time employees. 

DCH1 Amazonians United, an employee advocacy group based in Chicago, began pressuring Amazon to give delivery workers paid time off after workers in Sacramento circulated a petition calling for those benefits. Some workers realized they weren't being given paid time off, despite it being outlined in Amazon's employee handbook. The new policy applies to logistics employees who work more than 20 hours per week, according to a document published by the group.

Amazon said it has been planning to give workers paid time off for some time and that the decision wasn't made in response to the actions of any one group. 

But DHC1 Amazonians United said it's skeptical about the timing of Amazon's move.

"We have now won PTO for tens of thousands of fellow Amazon workers and we celebrate our win!," the group said in the blog post. "Amazon is giving us PTO because they see our movement growing and they want to calm our anger during this Coronavirus Peak by giving us what they already owed us." 

The shift comes just a few days after four senators wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos calling for him to establish sick leave and time-and-a-half hazard pay for fulfillment center workers. Warehouse workers have also called out Amazon for putting workers at risk during the coronavirus and circulated a petition urging it to give workers paid leave.

Prior to giving workers PTO, Amazon had announced other benefits changes. Last week, Amazon said it would raise pay for warehouse workers and delivery drivers by $2 per hour through the end of April. The company also extended its unlimited unpaid time off policy for all hourly employees through April.

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