In a move that will affect over 350,000 employees, Amazon announced today that it is increasing its minimum wage to $15 per hour for all US employees, effective November 1. The new rate applies to full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees.
Amazon says the change “will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites across the country this holiday.” It will also apply to Whole Foods employees.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”
Amazon also said it would also, “Begin advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage.”
“We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago,” said Jay Carney, SVP of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs and former press secretary for President Obama.
Amazon said in its most recent annual report that its median employee compensation was $28,446 in 2017. Walmart announced in January that it was raising its minimum wage for US employees to $11 per hour.
Amazon also said it will phase out Restricted Stock Unit (RSU) compensation for hourly fulfillment and customer service employees. “They prefer the predictability and immediacy of cash to RSUs,” Amazon says. “The net effect of this change and the new higher cash compensation is significantly more total compensation for employees, without any vesting requirements, and with more predictability.”
Amazon has come under increased criticism for its pay disparity this year. Last month, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced legislation called the Stop BEZOS Act that would tax corporations commensurate to the amount of government benefits low-wage employees receive in government benefits. Today, Sanders commended Amazon on their move.
“What Mr. Bezos has done today is not only enormously important for Amazon’s hundreds of thousands of employees, it could well be a shot heard around the world. I urge corporate leaders around the country to follow Mr. Bezos’ lead,” Sanders tweeted.
President Trump has also criticized Amazon on a number of fronts this year. In March, he accused Amazon of “putting many thousands of retailers out of business” and of receiving unfair tax treatment. In July 2017, he called Amazon a “monopoly.” However, Trump’s Amazon criticisms have not included commentary on the company’s hourly wages.
Amazon also announced today that it is increasing minimum wages paid to its UK employees. Starting November 1, minimum wages will increase to £10.50 ($13.59) per hour for all employees in the London area and £9.50/hour for staff in all other parts of the country.
Amazon has over 17,000 employees in Britain and plans to hire more than 20,000 seasonal employees for the holiday.
Amazon said the impact of the higher compensation on its financial reports will be reflected in its quarterly guidance.