Amazon told U.S. warehouse workers it’s temporarily raising their overtime pay as they wrestle with a flood of orders from people hunkered down in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of time-and-a-half for every hour worked over 40 hours in a work week, warehouse workers will receive double their hourly rate until May 9, the online retailer said.
The temporary overtime pay hike took effect March 15, the company said. Amazon has also said it would raise wages by $2 per hour through the end of April.
The announcement comes after four U.S. senators sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos questioning how the company is protecting the health and safety of warehouse workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
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Workers in fulfillment centers, sorting centers and delivery stations have said they fear that the company isn’t doing enough to protect them against the spread of the virus. They signed a petition demanding hazard pay, paid sick leave, paid childcare, relaxed productivity requirements and the closure of any facility where an employee is infected.
On Wednesday, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Queens, New York, received a text that one of their colleagues at the facility had tested positive for the coronavirus.
There are at least 275 deaths and over 19,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.
“While many traditional brick-and-mortar stores are experiencing hardships due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Amazon has seen its demand skyrocket, causing Amazon to announce that it will hire an additional 100,000 employees to help meet increased demand,” the letter from Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Bob Menendez and Sherrod Brown reads. “We write today to strongly urge you to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of your employees.”
In announcing the temporary overtime pay raise, Amazon told employees: “We understand the past few weeks has been a very challenging time. Everyone has done an incredible job coming together to help our customers and communities during this unprecedented event. We want to continue to support you during this time where many services you might depend on are no longer available due to closures.”