As a global company, we’re closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19. In addition to the thousands who are affected by the illness, thousands more are indirectly dealing with changes in their work, school, and community environments. Here are some of the ways Amazon is supporting employees, communities, and customers during this difficult time.
We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one, and we want to make sure our customers are getting essential items. As COVID-19 has spread, we've recently seen an increase in people shopping online. So in the short term, we are temporarily prioritising household staples, medical supplies, and other important products coming into Amazon fulfillment centers so we can more quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers. We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability on these essential products, and continue to bring on additional capacity to deliver your orders.
We’re also working to ensure that no one artificially raises prices on basic need products during this pandemic and have blocked or removed tens of thousands of items, in line with our long-standing policy. We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policy.
To protect customers shopping in our physical retail stores, we’ve enhanced our daily cleaning procedures and are implementing additional nightly cleaning. We continue to educate employees on official guidance for maintaining healthy habits, and are offering flexibility for employees who need to stay home, plus paid time off for those who are diagnosed with the virus.
In addition to serving our retail customers, we’re making sure Amazon Web Services customers have the tools and support they need to keep their businesses and organisations moving forward safely and efficiently.
AWS is collaborating with public health organisations, government agencies, and businesses around the globe to support their efforts resulting from the ripple effect of COVID-19. This includes providing customers in the most affected regions with technical support and AWS credits that help cover costs, while enabling organisations to quickly stand up and scale their tools and infrastructure to keep businesses running, and speed COVID-19 research projects. More details to be shared in coming days.
We are supporting Amazonians and others who are working from home with AWS services, including virtual desktops in the cloud, frustration-free online meetings with video, and secure content storage and collaboration. AWS also provides services for many healthcare and life sciences companies that are working on research, diagnosis, treatment, and vaccine study to accelerate our collective understanding of COVID-19.
In light of ongoing international COVID-19 developments, we now recommend that all global employees who work in a role that can be done from home, do so through the end of March. Every team is different and not all jobs are conducive to working from home. Employees and partners whose work requires their physical presence in their workplace, have access to all of their usual paid and unpaid time-off benefits.
We want to recognise our employees who are playing an essential role for people at a time when many of the services that might normally be there to support them are closed. In the UK, we will be adding an additional £2 per hour worked through April for hourly employees across the country. This is on top of our current rate of £10.50 for the London area, and £9.50 for the rest of the UK or more. In the U.S, we will also be adding an additional $2 USD per hour worked through April from our current rate of $15/hour or more, depending on the region, and approximately €2 per hour in many EU countries. This commitment to increased pay through the end of April represents an investment of over $350 million in increased compensation for hourly employees across the U.S., Europe, and Canada. Read more. March 16, 2020.
All Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine will receive up to two weeks of pay. This additional pay while away from work is to ensure employees have the time they need to return to good health without the worry of lost income. This is in addition to unlimited unpaid time off for all hourly employees through the end of March.
We are establishing the Amazon Relief Fund, with a $25 million initial contribution, focused on supporting our independent delivery service partners and their drivers, Amazon Flex participants, and seasonal employees under financial distress during this challenging time. We will be offering all of these groups the ability to apply for grants approximately equal to up to two weeks of pay if diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine. Going forward, this fund will support our employees and contractors around the world who face financial hardships from other qualifying events, such as a natural disaster, a federally declared emergency, or an unforeseen personal hardship. Applicants may apply and receive a personal grant from the fund ranging from $400 to $5,000 per person.
We paused our fulfilment center public tours programme, cancelled large events, and changed the majority of our job interviews to virtual interviews rather than in-person interviews, which often require travel. At the same time, we increased our cleaning of all facilities globally, including regular sanitisation of all door handles, stairway handrails, lift buttons, lockers, and touch screens.
We’re working to support the most vulnerable people in our local communities, including by partnering with non-profits who are providing critical services. This includes donations to organisations like the British Red Cross so that they can provide the items that their customers need. We will also provide free online STEM resources to students in lower-income communities to enable learning to continue in the event of school closures.
We are also working with our existing charity partner Magic Breakfast to ensure they can continue to provide free breakfast provision to children in schools in disadvantaged areas should schools closures commence.
In addition, we are continuing to pay all hourly staff who work for the service providers that support our offices here and around the world—from food-service workers to security guards to janitorial staff.
At our global headquarters in Seattle, we created a $5 million Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund to provide cash grants to Seattle-area small businesses that need assistance to get through economic challenges related to COVID-19. The fund is intended for businesses with fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue. Additionally, we are subsidising two full months of rent for tenants in the buildings Amazon owns.
We also contributed $1 million to a new Seattle Foundation fund for community members affected by COVID-19. The fund will provide flexible resources to nonprofits and community-based organizations working with those who are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and the economic consequences of the outbreak.
We’ve also reached out to, and are helping, our communities around the globe. In China, for example, we leveraged our fulfillment network to donate millions of items—such as medical isolation suits, protective masks, disposable gloves, and other medical supplies—to healthcare professionals in affected cities. We'll share more updates in days to come.
You can get the latest information about Amazon’s response to COVID-19 by bookmarking this page, and by following @AmazonNewsUK on Twitter.