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After COVID-19 hiring, Amazon offers 70% of new workers a permanent job

Surging demand led Amazon to hire 175,000 new workers in recent months.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET
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Amazon is planning to offer permanent roles to as many as 70% of the 175,000 new US workers it hired to meet surging demand during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced Thursday.

"Like other companies, we hired these individuals for seasonal roles to meet a surge in demand and, for many, there was the hope of returning back to their previous companies once states began to re-open," reads Amazon's blog announcing the move. "As the long-term picture becomes more clear, we're providing the opportunity for 125,000 of those who came on with us seasonally to stay with Amazon and transition into a regular, full-time role beginning in June. Some may choose to return to their previous job and others may choose to stay at Amazon in seasonal or part-time roles.

The move signals confidence on Amazon's part that the high demand for delivery of groceries and other essential home goods isn't likely to subside anytime soon, even as many states in the US begin to ease coronavirus lockdowns.

Amazon's hiring blitz came quickly as people turned to online shopping amid government stay-at-home orders. The expanded workforce has seen its share of turbulence in the weeks since, including protests over working conditions and at least five deaths from COVID-19. While Amazon raised worker wages and expanded overtime pay last month, the company also faced controversy after firing six employees who had spoken out in protest against working conditions. Amazon said the firings were due to violations of internal policies and not retaliatory.

"We didn't fire anyone for speaking out about working conditions," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said during the company's virtual shareholder meeting this week. "We support every employee's right to criticize their employers working conditions, but that also doesn't mean that they're allowed to not follow internal policies. But for sure your rights to protest working conditions, we take that super seriously and we have no problem with that at all."

See also: How to safely order food delivery, takeout and groceries during coronavirus quarantine

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