Last Updated on 2024-03-14

An Explanation of MET at Amazon: Mandatory Extra Time

We worked with these active, experienced gig-workers to write this article and bring you first-hand knowledge.

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Shane Lynch

T1 Asssociate with experience working both a Delivery Station and Sortation Center working in the XL Associate, Receive Dock, Waterspider, Picker, Problem Solver, and Packer roles.

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James Enright

L5 having worked in a Fulfillment Center, Sortation Center, and in Reverse Logistics with 6+ years of experience across Receive Dock, Decant, Waterspider, Stower, Picker, Count, Packer, SLAM Operator, Problem Solver, and Unloader roles

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Vaughn Winslow

One year of experience working in an Amazon XL warehouse

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Davis Porter

Experienced writer/researcher in the gig industry working alongside our gig-workers

Amazon’s overtime policy is flexible enough to accommodate dynamic workplace shifts and multiple job levels, as well as facilitate both voluntary and mandatory overtime schedules.

Warehouse employees can, of course, engage in voluntary overtime by signing up for such shifts at their discretion. However, the same cannot be said for Amazon MET, which is a different ball game altogether. It comes with rules you need to follow to maintain good standing as an Amazon employee.

To help you stay compliant, we’ll reveal all there is to know about Amazon’s mandatory extra time. This guide defines what it entails, explains how it works, and uncovers everything that comes with the Amazon MET policy. You’ll learn who is mandated to take such shifts in Amazon’s warehouses, when they’re scheduled, how much you stand to earn from mandatory overtime, and how often you can expect such opportunities to arise.

Does Amazon have mandatory overtime? 

Although controversial, mandatory extra time shifts do exist at Amazon, where they’re enforced alongside voluntary overtime options.

Since its introduction in 2016, the policy has attracted a lot of controversy. To some, mandatory overtime encroaches on the scheduling flexibility associated with Amazon’s entry-level warehouse roles . Amazon’s management, on the other hand, sees it as an occasional but necessary strategy – with mutual benefits for both Amazon and its warehouse workers. MET helps the platform meet operational needs while providing employees with the chance to earn bonuses .

However, it doesn’t apply uniformly. The duration and frequency of Amazon’s mandatory extra time shifts depend on your particular facility, job role, and local labor laws.

What is MET at Amazon warehouses? 

Mandatory Overtime (MET) is an integral component of Amazon’s strategy to manage workload during peak seasons, meet project deadlines, or handle unexpected surges in customer orders. Regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) , the policy requires employees to work additional hours beyond their normal schedule, irrespective of personal preferences or availability.

Amazon uses sophisticated scheduling algorithms to designate MET shifts based on predicted demand spikes. The algorithms analyze historical data, current order volumes, shipping deadlines, and even weather forecasts to determine when MET will be required. Employees are then notified in advance of their upcoming mandatory overtime schedules.

While the FLSA provides a federal baseline for the subsequent compensation of affected employees, some states have introduced further stipulations regarding mandatory overtime. For example, California has its own MET limitations on employees working over 72 hours a week.

Amazon’s MET policy for warehouses

Introduced in March 2016, Amazon's MET policy requires non-exempt full-time employees to receive overtime compensation for any hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek. The company relies on this framework to progressively mobilize its full-time workforce to sustain operational capabilities during busy periods.

Under normal conditions, Amazon warehouse employees might work between 8 to 10 hours daily. However, the MET policy allows for an additional 10 to 20 hours of overtime to manage workload spikes during the holiday season and major sales events. All extra time shifts are calculatedly allocated by Amazon's advanced scheduling software, based on assessments of order volume, forecasted demand, and worker availability.

Who is allocated mandatory extra time? 

Mandatory Extra Time (MET) primarily targets full-time Amazon workers across various departments within the fulfillment, sortation, and delivery stations. These are the positions that coordinate and execute key logistical operations in order processing, sorting, dispatch, and delivery.

Amazon’s fulfillment centers will, for instance, prioritize Stowers and Pickers in their MET schedules. Stowers handle the receiving and storing of inventory, while Pickers are tasked with selecting items for customer orders.

In sortation centers , full-time roles such as Sortation Associates would probably be compelled to work overtime in organizing packages into orders. They could then be joined by Shipping and Receiving Associates, who manage the outbound and inbound flow of goods.

As for delivery stations , mandatory overtime shifts may be allocated to warehouse personnel like Loaders and Sorters for their roles in preparing and organizing packages for final-mile delivery.

James Enright , a warehouse worker of six years, explains that universal indirect essential roles like Water Spider, Pack/Slam, and Problem Solvers are sometimes the first to get MET added to their schedules. 

Shane Lynch , his colleague, agrees while emphasizing that Water Spiders are also top of the list in terms of attracting MET instances. 

The demand for MET can also be location-specific, due to the unique operational requirements of different Amazon facilities. For example, fulfillment centers in urban areas with higher order volumes are expected to impose MET more frequently compared to their rural counterparts.

I work at a fairly large delivery station, when MET is implemented it’s for everyone,” says Shane

Vaughn Winslow , a six-month-old Amazon warehouse employee, then goes on to confirm that, “Yeah SAN3 AND SAN5 do it as a whole warehouse and there usually are NO exceptions to this.”

Things are different at the warehouse where James works. “My building leans heavily on VET and hasn't used MET in 2 years,” he admits.

 “But, the building next door has MET in six months of the year since they're a bigger Sortation center near two big Fulfillment Centers,” he adds to further clarify just how much operational requirements tend to influence the demand for MET shifts. 

Mandatory overtime schedules

Amazon usually schedules Mandatory Extra Time (MET) around its peak seasons – which include holiday periods like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and the lead-up to Prime Day. It’s during these major sales events that the company witnesses a sharp spike in customer orders, thereby demanding additional workforce capacity.

MET also spiked dramatically during the pandemic. Any busy time is really an opportunity for MET to be added,” confirms Shane .

Prime Day and its preceding days tend to be exceptionally intense for overtime workers. They often find themselves working upwards of 55 hours in a single week, with their regular shifts extending by an hour or two daily to accommodate the increased demand.

However, even during these high-demand periods, Amazon limits overtime to no more than 60 hours per week. The average for most warehouse employees is about ten hours.

James Enright himself reports, “I can't speak for all buildings but, in ours, PXT has an alert system that prevents anyone from going over 59 hours and 55 minutes.” 

“Whether Flex, full time, it doesn’t matter. Nobody is allowed to hit 60 anymore.” 

How often does Amazon offer mandatory overtime?

While there is no definitive answer regarding how often Amazon warehouses implement this policy, mandatory overtime is strategically scheduled around seasonal peaks and special events to fortify the company’s staffing levels. Employees can expect Amazon MET shifts during the holiday season starting from Thanksgiving through Christmas, as well as immediately before, during, and after Prime Day.

The company, however, acknowledges that prolonged periods of mandatory overtime can lead to employee burnout and increased turnover rates. As such, Amazon has developed several strategies to minimize its reliance on MET while optimizing operational efficiency. You will, for instance, see Amazon hiring tens of thousands of seasonal warehouse workers .

Amazon warehouse pay rate for MET shifts

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt workers are entitled to 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for overtime hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek.

That means an Amazon employee with a base rate of $20 per hour would earn $30 for each hour of overtime worked. This formula is uniformly applied across Amazon's operations, covering even MET shifts on weekends , holidays, and high-demand events like Prime Day.

But, not all employees qualify for overtime pay under the FLSA. Eligibility is based on job duties, salary level, and employment classification. At Amazon, roles classified under FLSA’s executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales exemptions are all excluded from overtime compensation.

How do you get out of Amazon MET obligations?

Unfortunately, regular warehouse employees can’t escape Amazon’s mandatory overtime obligation. The company rarely grants exemptions to anyone – and not even parental responsibilities like school pickups or caregiving will get you excused.

Amazon has historically only extended the privilege to full-time students. The rest of its warehouse employees are all required to comply with their mandatory overtime call-ups.

Amazon allows its employees to accumulate Paid Time Off (PTO) based on their work hours and tenure with the company. Such PTO, as it's known in short, can always be spent on vacations, personal breaks, sick leave, you name it. Whichever you choose, you’ll still be entitled to your dues when you’re away from work. So, yes, you can apply PTO to a time you have been scheduled to work MET.

What PTO won’t do, however, is offer similar compensation benefits for overtime hours. That means it’s impossible to log mandatory extra time when you’re on paid time off. Only the hours you’ve physically worked are eligible for overtime compensation.

What happens when you fail to fulfill your warehouse overtime shift? 

Skipping mandatory overtime isn't taken lightly at Amazon. Workers who miss their assigned Amazon MET risk facing disciplinary actions – which can range from the deduction of Unpaid Personal Time (UPT) to termination of employment. UPT deduction means you get less personal and vocational time outside working hours.

According to Shane , your warehouse employment might be Terminated by Amazon if your UPT balance drops to negative. 

“Very true,” corroborates Vaughn . “Even if it’s only negative five hours, they will terminate you.”

Another important thing you’ll miss out on is the lucrative Amazon overtime pay, which adds up to 1.5 times your standard hourly rate.

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