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Amazon to pay $500 million in bonuses to workers most exposed to coronavirus

It's giving out one-time bonuses to its front-line employees.

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Amazon is rewarding workers who stuck with the company through June.

PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images
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Amazon on Monday said it's paying out $500 million in one-time bonuses to front-line employees -- those most at risk of contracting the coronavirus -- who worked for the company through June.

The move is an apparent reversal for the company following weeks of criticism for it cutting its coronavirus hazard pay even as the pandemic has continued. Amazon had eliminated its $2-an-hour hazard pay for workers at the start of June, after it first instituted the higher wages in mid-March. That hazard pay increases had already cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars. 

"Our front-line operations teams have been on an incredible journey over the last few months, and we want to show our appreciation with a special one-time thank you bonus," Dave Clark, the company's SVP for worldwide operations, wrote in a note to workers Monday.

Full-time Amazon workers, Whole Foods employees and Delivery Service Partner drivers will get $500, while their part-time counterparts will receive $250. Amazon and Whole Foods employees in leadership positions will get $1,000, Delivery Service Partner owners will get $3,000 and Amazon Flex drivers who worked more than 10 hours in June will each get $150.

The pandemic has created distrust among Amazon's workforce, with some protesting the e-commerce giant's health and safety response to the virus. Workers and 13 state attorneys general have called on Amazon to release more detailed information on coronavirus cases and deaths among its employees. 

At the start of May, Amazon also eliminated a popular coronavirus program that allowed workers to take unlimited unpaid time off, which has become another point of friction between Amazon management and employees.

The company has instituted a variety of safety measures to protect warehouse employees, including providing masks and sanitizers and doing temperature checks.

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