Amazon is to offer parents and grandparents working in its warehouses the option of term-time only shifts, following a successful trial at three of its sites.
The new initiative will enable those with school-age dependents to have six weeks of leave during the summer, as well as two weeks off over both the Easter and Christmas holidays.
John Boumphrey, Amazon’s UK country manager, said: “I’m delighted to announce these new flexible working initiatives that provide even more choice for current and future employees, enabling them to better manage their home and work commitments.
“Amazon already provides a four-day working week for our fulfilment centre employees in the UK, and term-time contracts are another great example of how we are using feedback from our people to support them with their childcare needs, giving families more time together.”
The contracts are being phased in at all of the company’s fulfilment centres and will be rolled out to delivery stations and sort centres around the country later this year.
Boumphrey added: “Providing a flexible part-time contract where people can pick the shifts that best suit their needs will support our employees’ partners and other job-seekers with family caring commitments a route back to the workplace, helping to boost household income.”
According to the business, the new contracts are aimed at “better supporting family needs” and are being introduced after employee feedback revealed they wanted more flexible opportunities. It also explained that they won’t affect people’s workplace benefits.
Marianna Desai, regional operations director, said: “We’ve listened to our employees’ views on flexible working and I’m really proud that we’ve introduced new and innovative options based on their feedback.
“Both of these contracts put a really important emphasis on work-life balance and I’m certain they’re going to make a positive difference for many of our people.”
However, the GMB union, which wants to be recognised as the representative body for Amazon workers, believes that while staff welcome flexibility, they would prefer more pay. It highlighted that the announcements on flexible working have come after a series of staff strikes.
Amanda Gearing, GMB organiser, said: “It is no surprise that Amazon have discovered flexible working offers after Coventry workers have found their voice and their strength. It’s no coincidence that 16 days of strike action have come before this offer. But the workers are clear – they want their trade union to be recognised. They want a fair pay offer of £15 per hour. In the worst cost of living crisis for a generation it is only fair.
“Amazon needs to stop dithering, talk to GMB and recognise us as their workers’ voice.”
Amazon has also launched flexible part-time contracts which allow employees to “pick and mix” the shifts that suit their needs providing they work a minimum of 80 hours per month. These aim to support workers who can’t find jobs due to personal or caring commitments. Piloted at five sites, the part-time contracts were also implemented following feedback from staff.
As well as a minimum hourly rate of £11 per hour, employees at the company currently receive workplace benefits including life assurance private medical insurance, income protection, employee discounts and a pension plan.