Mandatory Overtime, Families

Mandatory overtime removes parents from children’s presence for substantial periods of formative years, infant to teen, but parent-workers cannot pay for normal expenses without overtime, creating a vicious circle, a hamster wheel effect, and family stress for workers at Amazon.

Overtime requirements puts the employee on unpaid on-call every week and also puts the family and children of the employee on-call for the parent to be absent ten hours per week. This on-call requirement protects the company regarding volume fluctuations. Overtime is mandatory. If an employee misses it, he must forfeit UPT, personal time, or vacation. Mandatory overtime can be called as late as the end of shift the day before. Frequently, mandatory overtime is called for the week, and then cancelled at the last minute.


Family members, particularly the worker’s child/children know that the worker might be called to work for a ten hour overtime day, every week of the year. The cumulative effect of these absences is incalculable.

An Operations Manager gave these statistics for SDF8 Inbound department at the February 3rd, 2016 All hands meeting. (Pick and pack are Outbound, but I would imagine the figures are comparable.): 2015 Overtime–8 weeks (3 consecutive); 2014 Overtime–24 consecutive weeks (if my notes are correct). These figures might indicate the company is aware of excessive overtime requirements and has been making efforts to alleviate this problem. However, mandatory overtime in 2016 has been extremely high. As of 6/8/2016, the DB3 shift had worked 13 weeks mandatory overtime. My shift, DA5, had worked 6 weeks mandatory overtime. Often, it is the luck of the draw, depending on the employee’s shift assignment, whether the employee is forced to work on his on-call overtime day. Company production volume requirements always supersede worker life obligations. The employee must appear or forfeit time-off hours. Mandatory overtime has been exceedingly high in the third quarter of 2016 as well, leaving employees already tired and burned-out leading into peak season.

When not assigned mandatory overtime, many Tier One associates find it necessary to volunteer for overtime to make ends meet. Maintaining a reliable vehicle, buying groceries, paying utilities, phone, gas, insurance, housing, medical bills and dental services–these obligations become extremely difficult to manage on a regular forty hour paycheck. These problems are certainly systemic in the United States and world economies, but I am focusing on SDF8 in Jeffersonville, IN, USA.

Employees try to maintain lives outside of Amazon. It can be difficult to find time for exercise, kids, sleep, housework, pets. Social life is severely restricted. Employees have to work overtime just to pay for life’s basic necessities. They do not use the extra money to get ahead, only to stay afloat. Parents might have a feeling that their relationships with their children are falling out of their grasp.

Sometimes, management hints that mandatory overtime is the associates’ doing, implying that employees create mandatory overtime for themselves. A manager said in stand-up, “You need to work hard and make your rate to reduce MOT.” Matt certainly implied UPT abuse was at the root of the October 2015 labor-hour crisis, without addressing the greater issues implicit within that event.

Amazon will adjust an employee’s schedule for school, but not for parental obligations. I believe school is the only thing it will make accommodations for. The company rolled out new, liberal maternity/paternity leave policies in 2015. I applaud it, but once the leave is over, the parent is on his own.

Cell phones are not allowed for Tier One employees. In today’s culture, families rely on cell phone connectivity for everything. Tier One employees leave these communication channels at the door. Tier Three, salaried managers, HR, facility technicians can carry their phones.