Amazon had already extended the policy until 16th May and now says the bonus pay will end on 31st May.
In an interview with Recode, Amazon said it plans to extend hazard pay for warehouse workers until the end of May, but will return to normal pay rates in June. The decision comes as Amazon faces intense scrutiny from progressive politicians, activist groups and its own workforce over the safety of its front line employees who have kept working during the coronavirus pandemic.
In mid-March, as the pandemic shut down businesses across the world that are deemed nonessential, Amazon started paying its warehouse and delivery employees in the US an additional $2 per hour as well as double overtime pay. It offered similar temporary pay increases for front line staff in Canada, the UK and some European countries.
Amazon’s return to regular pay comes as some US states have begun to open up nonessential businesses, although the country’s largest metroploitan areas remain almost completely shut down and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, warned that premature business openings could lead to new outbreaks.
Amazon said last month that it would incur $4b in expenses related to Covid-19 between April and June because of wage increases and other initiatives, including an in-house testing program for the virus. The company has argued that its pay and benefit programmes, as well as the timing of its increased safety measures during the pandemic, compare favourably to its fellow retailers and other major US employers.
But critics, including some Amazon warehouse and corporate employees, have complained about the company’s pandemic response. Some employees say they are concerned about contracting the virus at work, that social distancing is not always possible in fulfilment centres, and that they want more information about confirmed cases at their respective facilities. The company has also fired several front line and corporate employees who spoke out publicly about safety concerns.
Some employees and activist groups have expressed disappointment at Amazon’s decision to end an unlimited unpaid time off policy it implemented in mid-March, as well as the planned end of hazard pay. Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, said that employees have several other leave options despite the end of the unlimited unpaid time off policy, and that more than 10,000 of its front line workers have used those options to take time off.