Amazon To Hire 100,000 Fulfillment Workers As Coronavirus Boosts Demand And Delays Deliveries

  • March 16, 2020 at 5:46 PM EDT
  • By Glenn Taylor
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Amazon will hire an additional 100,000 employees for warehouse and delivery jobs as e-Commerce demand picks up for groceries, household staples, cleaning supplies and medical supplies amid the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the company announced in a blog post.

The e-Commerce giant has faced increased demand from customers on multiple fronts, with services like Prime Now and Amazon Fresh both reporting limited availability for several days or informing shoppers that they were unable to make deliveries. The issues are a rare disruption to Amazon’s signature Prime delivery service, which offers one-day and two-delivery shipping options to customers.

Amazon currently pays $15 an hour as a starting wage to workers in its fulfillment centers and delivery drivers around the U.S. and Canada, but is raising the pay for these employees by $2 an hour through April. In the UK, starting wages will go up £2 an hour and approximately €2 an hour in many EU countries.

The 100,000 new jobs arrive at a time when many major retailers, including Apple, Nike, Patagonia, Glossier, Urban Outfitters, Lululemon, Away, Warby Parker, Everlane, Allbirds and REI are either shuttering physical stores or limiting the hours they are open. In fact, retail advisory firm Coresight Research indicated that the temporary store closures could have major long-term consequences, with potentially as many as 15,000 stores closing in 2020 largely due to the coronavirus.

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But at the same time, the pandemic also represents an opportunity for retailers to further invest in their e-Commerce and supply chain operations — particularly in essential categories such as grocery —especially if shoppers continue to be discouraged from gathering in public places such as restaurants and bars for an extended period.

Amazon already has taken measures to improve the customer experience from a health and safety standpoint. The company emphasized in a blog post that Prime Now, Amazon Fresh, and Whole Foods delivery customers have the option to select “unattended delivery” during checkout if they prefer not to come into contact with others. Additionally, Amazon is taking steps to prevent sellers from artificially raising prices on products for basic needs, having blocked or removed “tens of thousands of items.”

Amazon encouraged employees whose jobs were lost or furloughed as a result of the coronavirus to apply, including members of the hospitality, restaurant and travel industries.

“We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back,” said the e-Commerce giant in a statement.

Last week, Amazon advised global corporate employees who can work from home to do so through the end of March. The company then expanded its sick-leave policy to include part-time warehouse workers and set up a relief fund with an initial $25 million donation for delivery partners such as drivers and others affected by the outbreak. The “Amazon Relief Fund” will allow these employees to apply for grants equal to up to two weeks of pay if they’re diagnosed with COVID-19.

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