Worker rights | Staff automatically fired without human involvement

Staff automatically fired without human involvement

Amazon’s lack of investment in the HR process and mistreatment of employees is again being scrutinised.

A new report – which The Verge cited as a letter by an Amazon Attorney as part of a case with the National Labour Relations Board - confirmed that the firm intends to utilise automated systems to fire employees – without the involvement of humans in the process.

Business Insider Australia reports that Amazon’s demanding workplace culture has long been a point of concern due to a perceived lack of employee welfare, with reports of suicidal employees, regular ambulance visits due to exhaustion and unsustainable working conditions being released almost daily.

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Now, Business Insider Australia has confirmed that over 300 workers were fired in a single Baltimore facility in the period of August 2017 to September 2018.

“Approximately 300 employees turned over in Baltimore related to productivity in this timeframe,” an Amazon Spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider. They concluded:

“In general, the number of employee terminations has decreased over the last two years at this facility as well as across North America.”

Amazon’s automated system reportedly tracks a metric called ‘time off task’, which measures how long workers take to complete tasks, take breaks or pause on-the-job. And whilst Amazon’s official regulations don’t prohibit toilet breaks, several reports of workers feeling pressured to stay in their post have been released.

Once the system has analysed a worker’s perceived productivity, it can then determine if the employee is failing to meet production targets and can automatically issue warnings and terminate employment contracts without the intervention or observation of a manager – or any human at all.

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Amazon’s Baltimore fulfilment centre employs around 2,500 workers, meaning that the company has an average turnover of ten per cent each year, solely due to what it calls a ‘lack of productivity’.

The Baltimore base is just one of 75 centres in North America, with an employer base of over 125,000 full-time workers. If this trend is consistent throughout the company, that’s an annual turnover of over 12,500 employees in that region alone.

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