Amazon won’t penalise warehouse workers for taking unpaid time off amid the coronavirus outbreak

  • Amazon is not going to penalise warehouse workers for taking unpaid time off (UPT) this month due to the coronavirus outbreak, CNBC reports.
  • Previously workers only had a set amount of UPT and were assigned penalty points for lack of attendance.
  • An Amazon spokesperson also said warehouse staff are being required to clean their workstations and vehicles at the beginning and end of every shift
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon, which is famous for its strict rules governing worker attendance, has issued a new policy meaning workers won’t get penalised for taking unpaid time off due to the coronavirus outbreak, CNBC reports.

A document sent to workers on Sunday and seen by CNBC said that Amazon employees who work from an “office, store, fulfillment center [Amazon’s term for its warehouses], delivery station or sort center” would benefit from the change in policy during the entire month of March.

Usually Amazon workers have a set amount of unpaid time off (UPT) they can take off and the company keeps track of employee infractions using a point system. Under the new policy, Amazon won’t dole out points for lack of attendance.

Speaking to Business Insider last year, workers said that using up allotted UPT — otherwise known as going into “negative UPT” — can result in immediate dismissal. “If you go negative, you’re gone. I’ve seen people that have worked there five years, they went negative unpaid time, and they got rid of them just like that,” a Tennessee warehouse worker told Business Insider. Responding to Business Insider at the time, an Amazon spokesperson said: “If an associate does run into a negative UPT balance, in each case we have a seek-to-understand conversation to recognize the associate’s situation and any mitigating circumstances.”

An Amazon spokesperson also told CNBC that the company now requires workers to thoroughly clean their workstations and vehicle at the beginning and end of every shift.

Two Amazon warehouse workers in Milan, Italy were confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus last week, and the company has encouraged office staff at its HQ in Seattle to work from home after one of its workers there tested positive and was quarantined.

Amazon was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider, but a spokesperson told CNBC: “We continue to work closely with public and private medical experts to ensure we are taking the right precautions and have implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees, delivery and transportation partners at our sites around the world.”

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