The news: Amazon is planning to hire a further 100,000 workers in the US to cope with an unprecedented surge in demand for online deliveries during the coronavirus outbreak, the company has announced. The hiring spree will be for positions in the company’s warehouses and across its delivery network. Amazon has also promised to temporarily increase pay by $2 per hour in the US, £2 in the UK, and €2 in many EU countries until the end of April. Amazon is the second-biggest employer in the US, with nearly 470,000 employees there already.
Why it’s doing this: Amazon accounts for nearly 39% of all online deliveries in the US, so it is bearing the brunt of a rapid surge in demand as people move to isolate themselves to try and limit the spread of coronavirus. Yesterday President Trump advised Americans to avoid bars, restaurants, and groups larger than 10.
How will Amazon protect its workers? Of course, there’s a flip side to people staying at home and ordering online: someone has to deliver those packages for them. Coronavirus is exposing inequalities within Amazon itself. People working at its corporate offices are being told to work from home, while its couriers have no choice but to keep exposing themselves to risk at the coalface. However, the company says it is taking “all recommended precautions in our buildings and stores to keep people healthy,” including social distancing measures and enhanced, more frequent cleaning. For those who do contract coronavirus, the company has said it will give them paid sick leave, and it will offer unlimited unpaid time off for all hourly employees during March.