Amazon is a company that divides opinion and is often in the news regarding staff welfare issues. This time though the news appears to be positive from the world’s leading online retailer.
The American giant has started paying staff a £50 weekly bonus at some of its UK warehouses, which is very generous of them, but this isn’t performance related, it’s just for being punctual. Now call me old fashioned but I thought turning up for work on time was a given. Isn’t it? Surely punctuality is covered in the staff handbook and a company shouldn’t have to pay employees an incentive to start work at an agreed time.
Sorry I’m late but…
I’ve never intentionally been late for work for any of the companies I’ve worked for and have probably only been late a handful of times in my whole career. When I was late it was for a genuine reason beyond my control; bus broken down, heavy snowfall, accident, or the road was closed temporarily due to a flock of sheep – this last example is quite ironic considering I’ve spent most of my career in Wales but this happened while working for a tour operator in Lancashire!
We’ve all heard some fantastic excuses from colleagues being late that usually involve blaming somebody else. The dog ran away while on an early morning walk, my toddler hid the car keys – yeah right! And my partner forgot to wake me when they left for work.
A colleague of mine strolled into an important strategy meeting 60 minutes late and blamed his tardiness on his central heating. It was mid-winter and he had been without heating for a week, so as soon as it was repaired he set the thermostat to tropical and failed to stir from a deep slumber when his alarm clock rang! It always makes me smile when I think about the incredulous look on the Commercial Director’s face as he was listening to the explanation.
Preparing for a busy Christmas
Anyway, let’s get back to Amazon, who state the enticement is to help them meet their summer and Christmas demand. The weekly payment is for people who have 100% attendance on all scheduled shifts, excluding time taken off for sickness linked to disability and Covid.
A spokesperson for Amazon said: "We are currently offering an attendance bonus at a number of locations to permanent associates to support our summer demand and help us prepare for the festive season ahead."
Christmas is by far their busiest time of the year and a period where they recruit thousands of additional temporary workers to cope with demand. Being proactive as always, Amazon has also recently offered a £1,000 signing on fee for new permanent employees in their warehouses as they boost their ranks ready for Christmas.
Staff welfare concerns
Amazon, as mentioned earlier, is often in the spotlight for the working conditions that staff endure. Unite the union launched a hotline in March for whistleblowers, to allow Amazon workers to call regarding any workplace issues. It has also asked Amazon to let UK workers unionise and to be given a greater share of the company’s profits. Unite actually went as far as to call the working conditions at Amazon as “Charles Dickens meets 21st century Britain’. Some Amazon workers have said they have to run to the toilet to make sure they are back at their workstation on time.
Amazon still has issues to resolve but at least it appears to be listening and addressing some of them. Will a £50 weekly bonus act as a motivation to those who struggle with timekeeping? Probably. But is it a good idea to incentivise staff just to start work on time? No, I don’t think it is. Surely the moment you start paying staff for being punctual you are on a slippery slope. What next? A bonus for staying until the end of the shift!
Having boasted earlier about my excellent time keeping record, I think I should invest in a new alarm clock just to make sure I am not late for work tomorrow. Now where can I get one of those…?
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