Amazon which gave its warehouse employees unlimited unpaid time off during the coronavirus pandemic in the month of April has now asked them to return to work starting May 1. Those who still wish to stay home can use regular accrued time off or request a leave of absence.
According to a report in NPR.org, Amazon was one of the few companies to extend unlimited, though unpaid, time off to its workers who are declared essential during the health crisis.
In an updated statement on Friday, Amazon said it has extended the increased hourly pay bump of $2 an hour through May 16.
“We are also extending double overtime pay in the US and Canada. These extensions increase our total investment in pay during COVID-19 to nearly $700 million for our hourly employees and partners,’ the e-commerce giant said in a statement.
In addition, said Amazon, it is providing flexibility with leave of absence options, including expanding the policy to cover
COVID-19 circumstances, such as high-risk individuals or school closures.
“We continue to see heavy demand during this difficult time and the team is doing incredible work for our customers and the community,” it added.
Amazon said that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has implemented “over 150 significant process changes”.
The company has hired 100,000 people in the last four weeks and opened up 75,000 additional full- and part-time positions across the U.S.
“We know many people have been hurt by layoffs in the hospitality, restaurant, and travel industries, and we want those people to know we welcome them on our teams with a variety of flexible opportunities until they can return to their previous position,” said Amazon.