Amazon delays back-to-office plans until January as delta cases keep rising


Amazon has pushed back its return-to-office date for tech and corporate workers until January 2022 as COVID-19 cases surge due to the delta variant.

The Seattle Times, which detailed the tech giant’s delay in returning to offices from internal messages, reports that Amazon will not mandate employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine before they return to the office.

“As we continue to closely watch conditions related to COVID-19, we are adjusting our guidance for corporate employees in the U.S. and other countries where we had previously anticipated our employees would begin coming in regularly the week of Sept. 7,” Amazon human resources chief Beth Galetti wrote in an email to employees. “We are now extending this date to Jan. 3, 2022.”

Microsoft announced earlier this week it was pushing back its office reopening to October and will require employees to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to enter the company’s U.S. offices and other worksites.

WATCH | ‘Fear and anxiety’ among Amazon warehouse workers:

An Amazon employee at the Ottawa warehouse says working conditions have been precarious during the pandemic, with dozens of workers testing positive for COVID-19. CBC News has agreed to protect the source’s identity because they fear losing their job. 1:06

Amazon continues to encourage employees to receive the vaccine, but will not require it, said spokesperson Jose Negrete. That differs from the policy at fellow tech giants Microsoft, Google and Facebook, each of whom have said they will require staff to show proof of vaccination before being allowed back to the office.

The delay affects the roughly 60,000 people working in Amazon’s offices in Seattle and Bellevue, Wash., as well as tens of thousands more corporate Amazon employees worldwide. Amazon is Washington state’s largest private employer, and the delay in the return to office work will be a blow to the many downtown Seattle businesses that rely on the trade of tech workers.

The vast majority of Amazon’s 1.2 million-person global workforce is still expected to show up on-site to pack boxes, sort merchandise and load and unload trucks at Amazon warehouses.

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