How Flexible Shifts Work at Amazon Warehouses

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By Phil Grossman

GigWolf Contributor

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By Alex Rodriguez

Amazon Warehouse

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By Paul Avila

Amazon Warehouse

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By James Enright

Amazon Warehouse

Last Updated on 2023-11-15

Amazon offers five different types of shifts to its employees:

  • Early morning: Start 4am-6am and end 2:00pm-4:00pm
  • Day: Start 6am-8am and end 5pm-6pm
  • Night: Start 10pm-4am and end 5am-7am
  • Weekend: Start anytime from 7:30pm on Friday to 6:00pm on Sunday and end between Friday night and Sunday night. 

“The shift types are usually determined by the building function (FC, SC, XL, etc.),” says James Enright, an L5 employee with over six years of experience at Amazon. “Even then there's always going to be variations based on building needs.”

For most roles at Amazon, you’ll be assigned a fixed schedule, just like most other jobs. For example, you could be assigned to work nights Sunday through Wednesday or early mornings Friday through Monday. 

But Amazon offers an alternative option called flexible (flex or Flex Time) schedules, which do away with traditional shifts almost entirely. 

Here’s how it works.

At the beginning of each week, Amazon posts available shifts on the A to Z site (you’ll sign up for this once you’re hired). You’re required to work at least 4 hours per week, but you’re free to select any available shift that appears on the site to rack up those hours. Depending on what role you were hired for, you’ll have a cap of 19 hours or 60 hours per week, and you’ll have to work a minimum of 4 or 30 hours per week. 

Shifts can go quickly though, so just because you’re a flex worker doesn’t mean you can always come to work whenever you want — if the only shifts left on the A to Z site start at 3am, you’d have to take those to meet your minimum. If you don’t meet your minimum hours, you’ll get a penalty point — eight of those will result in termination. 

Alex Rodriguez, who has two years of experience as a T1 associate, says, “desirable shifts, which tend to be weekday mornings, are gone lightning fast, often leaving only ‘undesirable shifts,’ which tend to be weekday evenings/nights and weekends. Flex employees have to remember they are competing with other fellow flex workers for available shifts, and many flex employees have a system to be logged in and ready at the very second shifts are made available, so keep this in mind if you are considering flex.”

However, you’re also able to cancel without penalty up to 24 hours before your shift starts, so if more shifts become available, you can swap. Alex adds that “during exceptionally slow periods, where work is limited and hence available shifts are limited as well, management will excuse any penalty points you may accrue from not being able to snap up any shifts or working your required weekly hours. Even so, keep in mind that while your points may be excused, you will not be getting paid for any non-worked shifts.

James echoes this, saying, “I can't speak for everywhere but my building is really, really forgiving when it comes to the 24 hour period and people not getting the shifts they need/are able to work. It might be because we've been undergoing construction for several months now, but I know they're forgiving points if the work isn't there.

Before we go any further: throughout this post, we’re going to be using the words “shift” and “schedule” interchangeably. 

How do flexible shifts work?

When you apply to Amazon warehouse jobs, you have three options: apply to a job with a fixed schedule, apply to a job with a flexible schedule, and apply to a job that has a combination of fixed and flexible shifts.

As a flexible schedule worker, you’ll be required to work for at least 4 or 30 hours every week, depending on the job you apply to. But beyond that, you can pick how much and when you work (within reason and depending on shift availability). 

You also have the option of canceling shifts up to 24 hours in advance without facing any penalties.

Fixed schedules workers are stuck with the schedule that they applied to, unless your manager lets you switch shifts or you apply to another position within Amazon. That said, you can usually take on additional shifts, called voluntary extra time (VET), with the same rules and flexibility as those on a flex schedule. You can also choose to take time off without pay, called voluntary time off (VTO). 

Alex says, “I have personally found even fixed schedules to be somewhat flexible, due to the availability of VTO, VET, and the Shift Swap system, as well as the availability to use personal time to arrive/leave early. Many fixed workers appreciate this flexible aspect of their jobs, but of course it is not guaranteed that you will encounter any of the previous (VTO, VET, etc.).”

James adds that “there's also the ability to ‘shift swap.’ Anyone — fixed or flex — can go on the A to Z app/website and pick a shift they have scheduled and ask to swap. They'll pick another day and shift they want, and the shift they're trying to drop will become available to anyone else who is eligible to work that day/shift. We've been doing this for over a year and it works really well. Flex associates love the ability to pickup a full shift and fixed associates love the ability to have some flexibility without burning their PTO/UPT/vacation.”

Employees on a fixed and flexible schedule get a mix of both: you’ll have a fixed schedule for a portion of your required hours, and a flex schedule for the remainder. 

19 hour vs. 30 hour flex shift types

Amazon currently offers two types of flex shifts: 19 hours (formerly known as FlexPT), 30 hours (formerly known as FlexRT). 

19 hour workers have a minimum requirement of only 4 hours per week but are not allowed to work more than 19 hours per week. This makes FlexPT a great choice for students and those looking for part time work, but it doesn’t make for a good full-time job.

30 hour workers have to work a minimum of 30 hours and a maximum of 60 hours per week. Any time worked over 40 hours becomes overtime, and you’ll receive a pay boost. 

How often does Amazon hire for flex schedules?

Compared to the other positions that Amazon offers, flex schedule offerings are less common, but they may be more common than fixed schedules at specific facilities. James says, “mine is about 80/20 fixed to flex, the sort center across the street is 40/60 fixed to flex. There's a delivery and sort building by me that only offers part time fixed or reduced time flex, and their staffing is 20-25 and 75-80 fixed to flex.”

Overall, Amazon hires flex schedulers less often than other warehouse workers. So, your odds of finding a flex schedule job are lower than finding a normal job with Amazon. However, Amazon adds new jobs frequently, so if you keep checking back, you’re likely to find something eventually.

Here are the current results of a search for Amazon flexible schedule jobs anywhere in the US:

However, if you do the same search for all jobs, including those with fixed schedules, there are many more:

Bear in mind that the latter results include all the results from the first search, and each of these listings represents multiple openings — these numbers should just serve as a rough guide to availability. Even so, it’s clear that non-flex positions are more common: if we subtract the flex jobs, we get 43 flex jobs, and 57 non-flex jobs.  

How to apply to a flexible schedule job?

When you are applying, make sure you select a flexible shift option on the Amazon website:

If you don’t see a flexible shift available for the job you are viewing, that means there are no flexible shift roles currently hiring for that facility.

Is an Amazon flex schedule right for me?

Amazon flex schedules are great for anyone who has a lot going on and can’t commit to a set schedule as well those who simply like the freedom that comes with being in charge of their own work hours. For example, college students looking to earn some extra cash, mothers and fathers that need to plan their work around their kids’ needs, and anyone who can’t commit to a recurring schedule for whatever reason are prime candidates for flex jobs. 

Paul Avila, a T3 employee at the LGB3 fulfillment center in California, says “many of the flex employees I met at my FC were single parents who needed maximum flexibility from their jobs to account for the spontaneity of being a parent. Most college students I met were full time employees who took advantage of school accommodations that were offered.”

But there are downsides. Once shifts are posted every Friday, workers grab them fast, so if you’re not quick with a mouse or a tap, you can get stuck with the most undesirable shifts. On the other hand, if you work a non-flex job at Amazon, you can choose a schedule that generally works for you from the get-go. 

Alex says that “many who start off as flex are initially intrigued by the idea of choosing their own schedules, only to find out that it is almost impossible to have a consistent schedule due to how fast shifts are snapped up. This leaves them working at random times and with the stress of not knowing what their schedules will look like week-to-week, and many decide they want to switch to fixed for the certainty instead.”

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