Amazon Employees are Feeling Underpaid and Overtimed



Amazon employees are feeling underpaid and overtimed so much so that a lawsuit against the company is being heard at the Supreme Court.   What is happening is that Amazon has a security checkpoint for workers leaving their warehouse that ensures no one is stealing items.  However, according to the employees, if you are in the back of the line it can take up to 25 minutes to get through the security checkpoint.  The employees claim they should be paid for it.  The company claims it isn’t integral to their job so overtime pay is not required based on previous laws on the books.

I see it differently.  If you are requiring an hourly employee to stay at work with no control over their leaving, then they should be paid for it.  However, there is a limit.  If I am an employee who works in a call center and my employer requires me to be logged onto my computer and ready to take calls at my scheduled start time I have no problem with it.   Or if I am expected to put on a uniform after arriving to work, I have no problem with that.  In both cases I can control how soon or late I show up to work to be on time.  When that control is put in the hands of the company I work for and the time becomes egregious, then I have an issue and then it makes the task integral to the job.  5-10 minutes is the maximum any company should keep you from leaving through security checks.  To their credit Amazon has said they have increased their security and the flow of egress has improved.

While I think Amazon was in the wrong in this case, I don’t think this should open up the floodgates, as some have predicted, that all non specific work activities should be paid for.  Guess it depends on how the Supreme Court rules and writes their decision.

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45 Responses to “Amazon Employees are Feeling Underpaid and Overtimed”

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  1. Rebecca Horn says:

    I’ve heard bad things about working at Amazon from a delivery driver where I work. It’s ridiculous that Amazon would make their employees go through such rigorous security checkpoints. You can be thorough and not take half an hour to get through security…

  2. Nate Fakes says:

    As much as I love the idea of getting any book I want for discounted rates, I really try not to support Amazon. They’re the online Wal-Mart.

  3. Comedy Plus says:

    In California it’s 10 or 15 minutes then you get paid overtime. It’s been so long since I worked I’ve forgotten. I agree, it’s not right if you are requiring them to do something that keeps them contained for that long. Not right at all.

    Have a terrific day and weekend. 🙂

  4. George Ford says:

    I believe that, if a company is requiring you to do something that they mandate as being essential, then they should pay for it. Maybe they should put the time clocks outside of the security checkpoint area. 🙂

  5. lisleman says:

    How about anyone found trying to steal merchandise is fined the amount of pay of everyone that was held up in line. My method would give the thieves an incentive to be at the end of the line. That way security could focus on the stragglers. Oh another problem I have with this is if you get paid to be held up in line then it would become worthwhile to pay off the security guards to slow down.

  6. Perk says:

    Slippage is factored into the budget for any business — a price of doing business, as unfortunate as that seems. Amazon seems to not only want to avoid slippage (good luck), they are losing morale which, in the end, is worse.

  7. Binky says:

    I think the California law Sandee mentioned above sounds fair. Anything over 10 or 15 minutes should be paid for by the company. It would give them the incentive to speed things up (which maybe they’ve already done).

  8. Tim Green says:

    I work at a job that has no benefits, overtime, sick leave or vacation pay! I stay there because I work unsupervised and, occasionally, I have down time to draw my comic! 🙂

  9. Tony McGurk says:

    This really sucks. If they are going to hold employees up for that long they should have the time clock at the gate so once you get to it then you can clock off. If I was prevented from leaving work for such an unreasonable amount of time like that I’d want to get paid as well.

    • In that way they may have to worry about lingering people

      • Tony McGurk says:

        Yeah good point Bearman. Where I work we’re supposed to clock off as we leave the factory as the time clock is just outside the factory door. Then get changed before going home. I don’t have a problem with all of 5 minutes or so to get changed in my own time. Some people get changed then linger around in the change room or the lunch room chatting for a while then after that they go back to the factory door to clock out.

  10. I couldn’t agree more.

  11. jynksie says:

    Going through security is something Amazon thinks they aren’t responsible for paying their employees for? I worked for a company back in the day where the time clocks to punch in and out where in a common area nearest the entrance/exit, then the next room was security. I was paid to wait to go through it going in and going home, going to lunch and coming home. Why wouldn’t it be that way?

    All this does is highlight the corp, culture of Amazon. You could stand up for the employees by no longer shopping there, but who’s going to stick their neck out if its not happening to them?!? I hope the court rules for the employees. It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. We all have the power to change or save a corporate culture, if we want to. [Market Basket]

    • On one hand I don’t necessarily want the court to rule in favor if the company has already done the necessary things to correct the behavior. Maybe the company should just look to settle so the lawyers don’t end up with all the money.

  12. G.B. Miller says:

    I think the point that you stated is spot on. If it’s something out of the employee’s control and yet it’s required of them to do so, then they need to be paid overtime, or at the very least, paid for the time standing in line. Barring that, the alternative is having that long wait built into the works schedule, i.e. instead of the employee leaving @ 8p when their shift actually ends, have them leave a half hour earlier.

  13. Bill Murphy says:

    First off, that T’ Shirt is killer!
    I agree with the employees at Amazon. I used to work for UPS and leaving the building you had to go through a security check. It never took more than five minutes so I didn’t care. Usually I walked right through.

    However, I used to work at Six Flags where your hourly rate begins when you get to your location at the park. If you were on register you had to make a stop by the park’s bank and get your money bag where you had to count it to make sure everything was there. Depending on the day, this may take an additional 10-20 minutes. Then you had to repeat the process on the way out, Another 10-20 minutes. Essentially, that was 20-40 working minutes a shift you were not paid for.

    • Thanks…a momentary glimpse of genius on the shirt. I worked at Disney and we weren’t paid for getting dressed or not but we didn’t have to manage a bank of money so not sure if those people clocked in first.

  14. Nef says:

    Easy solution: If the company requires that a 30 minute process be completed before the employees can go home, the company needs to send the employees to complete this process 30 minutes before clocking out. This would then serve as an incentive to the company to expedite processing.

    Of course, this means that employees need to be ready to begin work at their assigned work stations at starting time. Not arrive at starting time and then get ready.

    Fair is fair.

  15. Joseph DR says:

    Well, I guess I haven’t been keeping up with the news, but I thought Amazon was a great company. I’m shocked to learn they are the same as Walmart.

    I think Amazon needs to pay their workers for the time it takes to go through security.

    I glad I’m on salary! My day begins at 7:30 sharp and ends at 3:30 pm or less (depending whether the buses leave with the kids sooner). Sometimes a bus will leave late and I’ll be there until about 3:45 or so.

  16. Joseph DR says:

    I worked a factory job one summer. I was at the Compaq Center (which is now Joel Osteen’s) and I hooked up laptops and tested them. I didn’t like the job so I quit.

  17. Pirate Mike says:

    And just think how hard it is for a pirate to get through there!

  18. Friggin Loon says:

    That’s nothing. Some idiot in Australia wants businesses to pay for domestic violence sick leave .

    Employees have gone mad …. soon they will be demanding petrol and car maintenance….and that is when the robots take over.

  19. Mark Stokes says:

    The system is always trying to game its own system.

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