Amazon: What does 'peak season' mean for employees? (2023)

  • Published

Amazon: What does 'peak season' mean for employees? (1)Image source, Getty Images

By Jane Wakefield

Technology reporter

Amazon orders are pouring into warehouses around the world as people rush to buy Christmas gifts and take advantage of Black Friday deals.

But for those fulfilling these orders, peak season - as workers call the run-up to Christmas - is not especially festive.

It means long hours, hard work and for some, difficult decisions.

One young woman working at an Amazon warehouse in the US describes driving hundreds of miles to drop her child with his father for the whole Christmas period. Her schedule means she cannot look after him.

She posted a picture of herself and her child in their car on a Facebook group.

The BBC gained access to the group, which has 20,000 members, and is a place where workers discuss their jobs, lives and working conditions.

Amazon insists that it pays industry-leading wages and that working conditions in its warehouses are very good.

Jeff Bezos, chief executive and one of the world's richest men, has resisted calls for unionisation.

(Video) Peak Season At Amazon 😳 | Working At Amazon Warehouse

The Facebook group paints a complex picture of the firm.

Lots of people say they are worried about being fired.

Some (but not many) of the group appear to enjoy their jobs; lots of people make light of their daily routines with black humour, memes and videos. Sometimes they share good news about promotions or bosses spontaneously buying them pizza.

One has posted a live video of recent protests at a Staten Island warehouse alleging poor working conditions.

The first comment below it reads: "They will take names and six months from now none of those people protesting will be working there any more."

Others point out that there did not seem to be much of a crowd, with some saying that while they agreed with the sentiment, it was "stupid" to protest.

Amazon told the BBC: "Fewer than five Amazon associates participated in the event outside the Staten Island fulfilment centre. It was obvious to the 4,500 full-time workforce that an outside organisation used our building and the upcoming retail holidays to raise its own visibility and spread misinformation.

"The fact is that Amazon provides a safe, quality work environment in which associates are the heart and soul of the customer experience, and the notable lack of Amazon employee participation shows that associates know this to be true."

'No more than five deaths'

One woman on bereavement leave is concerned that she won't have a job when she returns because she is not sure how many times she is allowed to "be off" for family funerals. She seeks advice on the group.

"No more than five deaths" replies one.

Amazon responded: "Employees have time-off options they can choose to use if they would like."

Another person on the group alleges that they earned just $20 (£15.50) for working an extra day while having $198 deducted for one sick day.

And another describes a car accident she had on the way to work.

After treatment in hospital, she called in to work to show her discharge papers to "prove" to HR that she has good reason for not being at work.

Even though the doctor prescribed bed rest for two-to-four days, the woman says she was advised she needed to return to her manager and start her shift, four hours into it. Not doing so will mean she falls into negative PTO/UPT (paid time off/unpaid time off).

The woman pointed out she couldn't lift any objects and was on a lot of medication. She does the sensible thing and goes home. The next day she alleges she was fired.

Amazon said it could not comment on specific cases without names and the BBC has decided not to reveal the identities of those in the group.

The woman's post receives a mixed response. One worker tells her she needs to start a lawsuit, saying that her bosses had agreed a settlement after she took them to court.

But another says she shouldn't have used up all her UPT, as that is what it is for.

What no-one says is that she should take her case to a union.

On a recent visit to a fulfilment centre at Manchester Airport, I asked general manager Neil Travis why the firm was so against unionisation.

"We provide industry-leading pay and benefits and we deal directly with our team. We'd rather hear directly from them in terms of whether there are any issues, whether there is anything they want to share with us and whether there is anything we can do to help them," he tells me.

"We have a forum that represents people within our building. We'd rather just have direct conversations with the people that work here, and that has been fairly well-received and respected by our teams."

The UK's GMB union said of Mr Travis's response: "Amazon bosses are burying their heads in the sand if they don't think they have a problem. Conditions are appalling.

"Their forum is clearly not fit for purpose. Amazon needs to get round the table with GMB and discuss ways to make their workplaces safer and to give their workers an independent voice."

(Video) Amazon Prime Week 2 And Peak Season ( & Tips To Survive) |Working At Amazon

Amazon hit back, describing the union as "self-interested critics with a vested interest in spreading misinformation about Amazon".

"The truth is that Amazon already offers industry-leading pay, comprehensive benefits, as well as a safe, modern work environment."

Accidents and incidents

A Freedom of Information request, sent to the UK's Health and Safety Executive by the union and shared with the BBC, suggested that reports of serious incidents at the Manchester Airport site had doubled over the past three years, from 10 in 2016/17 to 22 in 2018/19.

The reports include cases of workers fracturing bones, another suffering concussion, falls and a collision with heavy equipment.

For injuries to be reported to the UK's Health and Safety Executive under Riddor (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulation) they must be:

  • from a list of specified injuries, including fractures, amputations, sight loss, crush injury, burns
  • so serious that the person has to have seven days off work

When I visit, a notice board in the lobby proudly proclaims that there have been 33 days since the last incident, although Mr Travis cannot say what that was. It turned out to have been a minor fall.

Meanwhile, evidence is mounting in the US that working conditions could be improved.

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in its recent report, Time Off Task, that employees at the Staten Island distribution centre were encouraged to work faster and limit breaks, causing physical pain in 66% of the 145 workers surveyed.

Amazon dismissed the survey as "biased", saying only a fraction of workers were questioned.

But an exclusive report from tech website Gizmodo suggested that Amazon's own figures submitted to the OSHA revealed "staggering" injury rates at the warehouse.

According to one lawyer, they are higher than the national warehouse average and industries known to be dangerous, such as waste collection and policing.

(Video) What to Expect During PEAK SEASON at AMAZON!

In response, Amazon told the BBC a "snapshot of injury recordings" was misleading, adding that it invested heavily in safety.

"Safety training is constant, both in making sure employees know how best to work with the technology in the facility and also how to prevent injuries.

"There's a dramatic level of under-recording of safety incidents across the industry. We recognised this in 2016 and began to take an aggressive stance on recording injuries, no matter how big or small, which can result in elevated recordable rates and makes comparisons difficult."

Last month a worker died in an Amazon warehouse in Ohio. Although Billy Foister had a previous heart condition, and there is no suggestion his death was caused by working there, it is claimed his collapse went unnoticed at first, with co-workers told to go back to work.

On the Facebook group seen by the BBC, people claiming to have worked alongside him say that he had visited the warehouse's medical clinic the week before, complaining of chest pains, but was not given any time off.

Amazon said it was "deeply saddened by the loss of one of our associates".

"Billy Foister experienced a personal medical incident onsite and lost consciousness.

"Several trained and certified Amazon team members responded within three minutes to administer CPR and the AED (defibrillator) and did all they could to support him until local EMS (emergency medical services) arrived, within 10 minutes, to transport him to the hospital for further treatment."

My trip to an Amazon warehouse

On the wall of the Manchester Airport fulfilment centre is a worker bee - a symbol of Manchester since the 1800s, when the city was full of textile mills, commonly described as hives of activity, with the workers the "bees".

Amazon's fulfilment centres are the digital age's equivalent and working conditions are undoubtedly a vast improvement on the mills of old.

It is far less frenetic than I expected. There are not hundreds of people hunched over workstations - in fact there are far more robots than people on the floor I visited.

General manager Mr Travis points out that the company runs public tours, with members of the public and schoolchildren invited to see conditions for themselves.

(Video) Amazon Peak Season Overtime Or Nah!? | Working At Amazon


Amazon: What does 'peak season' mean for employees? ›

But for those fulfilling this command, the peak season – as the workers call the run-up to Christmas – not particularly festive. This means long hours, hard work, and for some, a difficult decision. A young woman who works at an Amazon warehouse in the United Stat.

How does peak season work at Amazon? ›

Peak season often means that a warehouse's package influx will double. Workers who spoke to Motherboard say they're assigned mandatory overtime for almost 60-hour weeks, working up to 12 hour shifts, or delivering to over 200 stops a day.

How long does peak season last at Amazon? ›

When Does Amazon Peak Season 2022 Start? Although in 2022, the Amazon Peak season started on October 1st, it will actually begin with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday and last until the Christmas season. Therefore, you can benefit from this peak period to boost sales and raise revenue with Amazon.

Does Amazon increase pay during peak season? ›

Peak Pay Raise

In previous years, Amazon has awarded “Christmas bonuses” of about $300 for fulltime associates and $150 for part-time associates. Some facilities also pay double time for any hours worked past 40 each week during certain months of the peak season – such as December – or for the entire peak season.

How much do Amazon workers make during peak season? ›

$14-$32/hr Amazon Peak Season Jobs in California.

What does peak season mean in warehouse? ›

Understanding Peak Season in Warehousing

Every year, warehouses face a surge in activity for several months due to the high demand for products. The peak season typically begins in October as people start preparing for the holidays and extends until January, with warehouses dealing with high volumes of returns.

What does peak season include? ›

Meaning of peak season in English. the time of year when a lot of people travel and prices are usually at their highest: Some travel companies offer deals even in peak season.

Does Amazon give PTO during peak? ›

UPT is dispersed on the first day of the quarter in 20 hour chunks. Personal time and unpaid time off can be used anytime. Vacation must be requested twenty-four hours in advance, must be approved, and cannot be taken during blackout periods (peak and prime day).

Does Amazon fire you after 6 points? ›

What If You Earn 6 Amazon Points? An individual will be sacked from his work if he earns 6 to 8 points within 90 days. Any worker who receives four to five points will be fired. You will not be awarded points if you cannot come on time due to sickness.

How long does Amazon keep their seasonal employees? ›

Amazon typically hires seasonal workers for the holiday season starting in October and keeps them employed until around early January of the following year. Amazon often needs many seasonal workers during this busy season at its fulfillment centers.

How long is peak season? ›

On a very general level, you can roughly say that peak season is summer—which is June–August in the northern hemisphere and November–February in the southern hemisphere. The Christmas and New Year's holidays are also peak seasons in many parts of the world.

Does Amazon pay extra in December? ›

Amazon has 7 paid holidays. You earn 1.5 your hourly rate if you actually work on the holiday. On top of that you also earn holiday pay, which is either 6 or 8 hours depending on your schedule that is paid at your regular rate. Christmas, Thanksgiving, fourth of July, Labor and Memorial Day, New Years.

How much does Amazon pay t3? ›

The estimated total pay for a Tier III Process Assistant at Amazon is $29 per hour. This number represents the median, which is the midpoint of the ranges from our proprietary Total Pay Estimate model and based on salaries collected from our users. The estimated base pay is $24 per hour.

What is the highest paying hourly job at Amazon? ›

Information Technology Project Manager

What is the max pay at Amazon? ›

Amazon boosts max base pay for corporate workers to $350,000 as labor market heats up. Amazon is more than doubling its maximum base salary for corporate workers, according to an internal memo. The company will now cap its base pay at $350,000, up from its previous max of $160,000.

How long does the average Amazon worker last? ›

The problem is that the average warehouse worker only lasts about eight months with Amazon. The annual attrition rate is somewhere around 150 percent, more than double that of the comparable retail and logistics industries in the US.

How long does peak season last? ›

On a very general level, you can roughly say that peak season is summer—which is June–August in the northern hemisphere and November–February in the southern hemisphere. The Christmas and New Year's holidays are also peak seasons in many parts of the world.

How much is Amazon Peak? ›

On August 16th, Amazon announced that for the first time ever, they will implement a Holiday Peak Order Fulfillment Fee to take effect from October 15th, 2022 to January 14th, 2023. Per Amazon, the fee will be an average of USD 0.35 per item sold using US and Canada FBA.

How does Amazon pay seasonal? ›

Many seasonal workers get hired permanently after the season ends. The hourly pay rate for seasonal positions averages between $16 - $20 per hour, depending on the job, geographic location, and hours worked. For instance, overnight shifts earn a higher rate of pay.


1. AMAZON Warehouse Worst Peak Season Ahead? | Working At Amazon
2. Amazon Peak Season.. Part Two!? | Working At Amazon
3. Amazon Peak Season Burn Out!? | Working At Amazon
5. What You Should Know for Amazon Peak Season 2021
(Seller Snap Inc.)
6. This is what it's like to work in an Amazon warehouse
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jonah Leffler

Last Updated: 22/11/2023

Views: 6392

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jonah Leffler

Birthday: 1997-10-27

Address: 8987 Kieth Ports, Luettgenland, CT 54657-9808

Phone: +2611128251586

Job: Mining Supervisor

Hobby: Worldbuilding, Electronics, Amateur radio, Skiing, Cycling, Jogging, Taxidermy

Introduction: My name is Jonah Leffler, I am a determined, faithful, outstanding, inexpensive, cheerful, determined, smiling person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.