Asking employees to go above and beyond outside of working hours is always an area of trepidation, but if their commute home could get them some extra pay they may just take up the offer.
Employees at Walmart can testify, as they have been enlisted to deliver online orders on their way home from work, in the face of growing competition from Amazon.
Workers will receive extra pay for the voluntary program and will be offered overtime pay, according to Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala. However, he declined to clarify whether employees would be paid based on distance, time, number of deliveries or a combination of each.
The Washington Post reports that Walmart executives said the cost-saving method made sense, considering that 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store.
“It just makes sense: We already have trucks moving orders from fulfillment centers to stores for pickup,” Marc Lore, Chief Executive of Walmart’s e-commerce business said in a blog post. “Those same trucks could be used to bring ship-to-home orders to a store close to their final destination, where a participating associate can sign up to deliver them to the customer’s house.
“Walmart is uniquely qualified, uniquely positioned, to be able to offer this. There is really strong overlap between where our associates are already heading after work and where those packages need to go.”
The retail giant has said the program is a way for employees to earn extra money, however, labour experts say the ‘gig economy’ style program raises questions related to employee responsibility over the risk cost and liability associated with deliveries.
“The practice seems ripe for abuse if the company does not compensate workers for the full cost of their journey, the expenses related to gas, car depreciation, and potential problems like accidents, tickets or parking expenses,” comments Stephanie Luce, a Labour Professor at the City University of New York. “Like other ‘gig economy’ type jobs, there is a potential to benefit workers — but most of the benefits accrue to the employer, not the employee.”
Last year, the retailer reported $485.9billion in revenue, and this year they said it would raise its hourly minimum wage to $10 (£7.70) for most workers. However, activist groups say many employees are still struggling to make ends meet.
Workers have also been sceptical about the new scheme, but Jariwala reiterates that the scheme is completely opt-in.