Amazon staff work seven-day week without sick leave
By Barry Collins
Posted on 15 Dec 2008 at 09:29
Amazon is forcing British staff to work a seven-day week in the run-up to Christmas and threatening to sack them if they take time off sick, according to a newspaper report.
The Sunday Times sent an undercover journalist to work at the online shopping giant's warehouse in Bedfordshire, following a tip-off about draconian working conditions.
The reporter found that the casual staff employed by the company over the Christmas period were made to work an overnight shift on a Saturday night, following a normal working week - effectively meaning that staff were working every day of the week.
Casuals were banned from taking sick leave, with workers being awarded a penalty point for taking a day off, even with a doctor's sick note. Employees are fired after amassing six points.
The undercover reporter also found that staff were being set productivity quotas that even management described as "ridiculous". One member of staff had to pack 140 Xbox consoles an hour to qualify for a bonus payment. Bonuses were only handed out if all the members of the team hit their targets.
Amazon, like many retailers, employs thousands of relatively cheap, temporary staff to help meet peak demand over the Christmas period. The Sunday Times reporter was paid £6.30 an hour for a day shift - just over 50p above the minimum wage - but staff had to pay £8.50 a day for bus travel to and from the out-of-town warehouse if they didn't have their own transport.
An Amazon spokesman told The Sunday Times that anyone not willing to work "many hours" should not accept a job with the company.
"Every single member of the Amazon.co.uk workforce, be that a temporary picker in Marston Gate, a permanent packer in Gourock, a customer service representative in Cork or a product manager in our Slough head office, is currently working flat out to ensure that our millions of customers receive the products that they have ordered on time this Christmas," Allan Lyall, vice president of EU operations for Amazon said in a statement to the newspaper.
"Demand for permanent roles from our temporary employees is at such a high level that we no longer need to recruit externally for permanent positions. Indeed, we have already seen well over 100 temporary employees become permanent this year alone."
Is your business a social business? For helpful info and tips visit our hub.
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- How to sell more ebooks on Amazon
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office