Amid Amazon.com Inc.’s (“Amazon”) rapid growth, worrying patterns with respect to employee health and safety, infringement of international labour standards, and aversion to collective bargaining have emerged. This investor report provides an overview of Amazon and describes workforce risks in its operations.
Workforce risks documented in Amazon In-Depth include:
- Health and safety: Facing demanding productivity quotas in warehouses, studies in various jurisdictions document that workers suffer from higher-than-average injury rates.
- Workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining: With strikes and work stoppages at logistics centres across Europe and North America, Amazon has faced pressure to recognize workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. In some cases, workers allege that they were fired for attempting to improve their working conditions.
- COVID-19: Amazon’s response to COVID-19 has further illuminated precarious working conditions, as well as health and safety issues, in the company’s warehouse and delivery chain.
Workers’ collective voice is essential to improving Amazon’s workforce management and mitigating the human rights risks that may negatively impact the company’s reputation.
This report provides a path for investors to address these risks by encouraging improvements in Amazon’s workforce management practices. Specifically, we suggest that investors should request from Amazon a commitment to strengthen its performance and reduce its human rights risks by:
- GOVERNANCE: Elevating workforce management oversight to the board of directors, appointing directors with specific human resource management and human rights due diligence skills and experience, and publicly disclosing the board’s workforce oversight policies and activities.
- RISK MANAGEMENT: Improving its existing labour and human rights policies (the “Amazon Global Human Rights Principles”) to manage risk more effectively by:
- Specifying the business relationships – such as customers, suppliers, employees – to whom the company’s commitments apply, as well as how the company will embed its policy commitments and strengthen accountability;
- Committing to implement among its direct employees and those in its value chain the full range of labour rights specified in the Core Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), including the right to collective bargaining;
- Working with investors and independent human rights experts to detail the processes it will use to identify, assess, prevent, mitigate, and, where appropriate, address adverse human and labour rights impacts, in accordance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and other relevant standards.
- Fulfilling its pledge to lead in workforce management by committing to upholding international human and labour rights standards, even where national law – including in the United States, where its largest workforce is located – does not meet those standards.
Photo: Shutterstock | Frederic Legrand – COMEO