Amazon said Monday it plans to hire 100,000 more part-time and full-time warehouse workers and delivery drivers in the US to help it manage the huge increase in online shopping during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
"We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year," Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations, said in a blog post.
The e-commerce giant said it plans to raise pay for these hourly employees in the US, Europe and Canada through April, which will cost the company over $350 million. In the US, pay is being raised by $2 an hour for employees paid $15 or more, with increases of 2 euros in Europe and £2 in England.
Amazon employs roughly 500,000 people in the US.
While Amazon often ramps up hiring during the holidays, the change Monday is a huge uptick for Amazon's employee count in mid-March, a typically slower time of the retail year. It shows just how much the coronavirus has changed social activities in just a few weeks in the US, with new protocols to slow infection forcing stores to close and causing more people to work from home. That's resulted in a surge of online orders at retailers. Amazon, the biggest online seller in the US by far, should be a big beneficiary of this purchasing, since it takes in 39% of all US e-commerce sales, according to eMarketer.
The new hiring may also reduce some of the problems that have developed in Amazon's massive logistics network during the increased demand, which has at times resulted in later deliveries, canceled shipments and out-of-stock items.
Amazon last week said it was expanding its sick leave policy, offering up to two weeks of pay for any Amazon employee diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, or placed in quarantine. This is in addition to Amazon's offer for unlimited unpaid leave for all hourly employees through this month.
The company also created the Amazon Relief Fund with a $25 million initial contribution to help independent delivery businesses, gig workers who pick up work through the Amazon Flex delivery program and seasonal employees.