Amazon says it will hire 100,000 extra full and part-time staff to handle the surge in demand caused by the coronavirus crisis.
The company said it would invest $350m to increase the hourly wage for workers in its warehouses and delivery infrastructure, as well as its grocery stores, including Whole Foods Market, until at least the end of April. North American employees will see pay increase by $2, UK by £2, and approximately €2 an hour in “many euro countries”.
The move comes after warnings from the company at the weekend that it had run out of some household essentials.
The new hires would bring the company’s total number of employees — not including contractors — to more than 900,000 worldwide.
“We also know many people have been economically impacted as jobs in areas like hospitality, restaurants and travel are lost or furloughed as part of this crisis,” said Dave Clark, Amazon’s head of worldwide operations.
“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.”
Unlike Amazon’s offices, where employees have been told to work at home, the company’s warehouses are still operational.
“We continue to consult with medical and health experts, and take all recommended precautions in our buildings and stores to keep people healthy,” Mr Clark added. “We’ve taken measures to promote social distancing in the workplace and taken on enhanced and frequent cleaning, to name just a few.”
Following the announcement, shares in the company dropped just over 2 per cent in after-hours trading, off the back of a 5 per cent drop on Monday as US equities suffered steep declines. Amazon has lost almost a quarter of its value since mid-February.
On Sunday the company blamed high demand for causing a glitch in its system that disrupted online grocery deliveries.
A “significant increase” in orders placed online meant a “systems impact affecting our ability to deliver”, a company spokesperson said.
Amazon’s website currently warns users that Whole Food deliveries, and food from its Amazon Fresh grocery service, are “temporarily disrupted”.