Amazon Offers To Pay Full College Tuition To It’s Hourly Workers
On Thursday, Amazon announced they would be offering to pay their nearly 750,000 United States employees tuition to attend college. This is an expansion on their education benefits, coming at a time where a mass amount of companies are struggling to hire employees. Amazon says they are offering this to any employee that is employed by them for more than 90 days.
The company says since the start of the pandemic, they have hired more than 400,000 employees, all eligible when the program starts in January of 2022. Amazon says this is not a replacement of their current education programs, rather, it’s an expansion. Amazon already offers to pay for their students to get a high school diploma, GED and learn a second language.
Despite Amazon growing even larger in demand during the pandemic and becoming the second largest private employer in the United States, it has faced allegations of poor working conditions. In New York State there was a lawsuit filed saying the company failed to protect its workers from COVID-19. The company has also faced allegations from employees saying everyone is driven by quotas and at times made it difficult to take breaks to use the restroom. This has driven California lawmakers to introduce legislation limiting warehouse quotas.
Companies are starting to raise the salary of their employees because of the lack of labor force. Many people have blamed the pandemic unemployment benefits for the lack of workers. These unemployment benefits expired on Labor day, earlier this week. Currently the labor force is at 161.5 million workers, compared to pre pandemic levels of 165.5 million workers.
Amazon said they would pay for the tuition upfront, instead of using a reimbursement method. The company says they are doing this because they acknowledge that not everyone has the finances to jump-start their college education.
Amazon’s new program follows similar moves by rival retailers, including Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer and Target. Last month Target said it would offer its 340,000 United States-based employees the chance to go to college for free, while bigger retail rival Walmart has made the same arrangement for its 1.5 million workers.