Last Updated on 2024-03-12

How Overtime Pay At Amazon Warehouse Works in 2024

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

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Jesse Gauthier

T1 Associate with two years of experience working in the Packer, Problem Solver, and Scanner roles

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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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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

While overtime pay is a potentially lucrative earning opportunity for both seasonal and permanent Amazon workers, its policies can be confusing and complex for many. 

Generally, Amazon’s overtime pay is activated upon surpassing 40 work hours per week. However, the thresholds for eligibility and compensation are not uniform across the board. They depend on, among other factors, your employment level, location, work schedule, and shifts in demand.

Further complicating the matter is federal and state labor laws, which dictate how Amazon manages overtime scheduling, tracking, calculation, payment, and record-keeping.

These are some of the elements that we’ll explore as we decode Amazon's overtime policies. We’re specifically focusing on warehouse entry-level roles , as they make up the bulk of Amazon hires across the U.S. We’ll explain how Amazon’s overtime shifts work, the mandates and restrictions on warehouse workers, how to earn overtime pay, how Amazon computes everything, as well as how and where to optimize overtime opportunities for income growth and better work-life balance at Amazon

Does Amazon pay overtime in warehouse roles?

Yes. Amazon does indeed pay overtime to its warehouse workers, as required by both federal and state labor laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) , in particular, directs employers to compensate their non-exempt employees at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly wages for extending beyond 40 hours in a workweek. 

But, while the FLSA sets the federal baseline, some states enforce different overtime thresholds. Amazon is therefore forced to adjust its overtime pay policies by location to maintain universal compliance.

Amazon’s overtime compensation is also influenced by contract type. Permanent warehouse employees typically have structured overtime opportunities and may receive different rates compared to their short-term counterparts workers. Seasonal staff – who are largely hired by Amazon warehouses during peak periods – may otherwise attract a higher volume of mandatory overtime schedules. 

The company’s mandatory overtime policy requires full-time employees to be available for at least one overtime shift each week – especially during peak times such as the holiday season or Prime Day.

What exactly is “overtime”?

Overtime refers to the duration worked beyond the standard U.S. workweek of 40 hours. The corresponding overtime pay is regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – which also spells out exemptions based on job duties, salary levels, and industry.

The overtime pay rate is usually one and a half times the regular hourly rate. For instance, if an employee earns $20 per hour, they’d get $30 per hour of overtime. Their employer is required to compensate them fully, and cannot otherwise use bonuses or other incentives to meet the overtime pay obligations.

Not every Amazon warehouse worker is entitled to the benefits, though. The FLSA excludes some employees in high-ranking executive and administrative roles. Criteria for exemption include earning over $684 per week or $35,568 annually, plus performing roles that require discretion and independent judgment.

“Any employee in a management or salaried role will not qualify for overtime pay,” confirms Vaughn Winslow, a warehouse associate who’s worked with Amazon for a little over six months. He however adds that Amazon makes up for that by providing the excluded group with other incentives and bonuses.  

How Amazon warehouse workers get overtime shifts

Amazon warehouses rely on both voluntary and mandatory overtime to efficiently manage their extensive logistical operations.

Employees can opt for Voluntary Extra Time (VET) by signing up for extra shifts through the Amazon A to Z app. This system displays available overtime shifts up to 15 days in advance, allowing workers to choose opportunities that suit their schedules. 

Some of the employees even get the option to cancel a shift up to 24 hours in advance without facing any penalties. Others, like Jesse Gauthier, are locked out of that privilege. “Every time I select a VET shift the system warns that the shift cannot be dropped once added,” he reports, after serving the company for one year.

Mandatory Extra Time (MET), on the other hand, is invoked during peak operational periods – such as Prime Day, Black Friday, and the holiday shopping season. This is when Amazon warehouses are most in need of workforce reinforcement.

Jesse adds that even outside these seasons, warehouse workers may still be called upon for MET when there’s a backlog of orders or inventory overflow. 

Failing to attend your MET shifts without a valid reason can lead to deductions from the employee's Unpaid Personal Time (UPT), vacation, or personal leave. If the absenteeism persists, Amazon could take disciplinary action – including possible termination.

According to Shane Lynch, an Amazon warehouse associate of 1+ year, “You will still be docked UPT even with a valid excuse.” He insists that you can however get the penalty cleared by following up with the Employee  Resource Center (ERC) or human resource teams. 

His colleague, Vaughn, explains that the strict measures are due to Amazon treating MET as a regular work shift. Failure to fulfill your assigned schedule reportedly amounts to absconding work duties. 

Employees eligible for overtime shifts

For starters, the company has a mandatory policy that requires all warehouse associates to be available for overtime shifts during high-demand periods. These roles are critical to Amazon's logistics and fulfillment processes, often requiring additional work hours to meet the increased demands of peak shopping seasons.

Seasonal workers, in particular, easily qualify for overtime pay as they’re usually hired with the expectation of working extended hours during busy periods. For permanent employees, however, overtime opportunities are more regulated in line with the company’s long-term staffing strategies.

The availability of overtime shifts additionally depends on an employee's tasks within the Amazon warehouse pipeline. Amazon strategically manages overtime to ensure critical roles are adequately staffed to meet customer service standards and operational needs. That means positions directly involved in order fulfillment – such as pickers and packers – are likely to see more frequent overtime offerings compared to their colleagues in support.

That notwithstanding, Jesse insists that you could expand your additional overtime (VET) offerings by getting cross-trained in multiple departments.

Amazon overtime scheduling

Overtime availability can fluctuate daily and weekly, driven by the operational demands of each Amazon warehouse. The platform proactively communicates these needs to its workforce, preparing them for the increased workload. Employees are notified of any upcoming events that require extra staffing, after which they get to pick and schedule their overtime shifts ahead of time based on their availability. 

The system itself observes the legal work-hour limits and seeks to maximize efficiency within labor law boundaries. Amazon also claims that available opportunities are always distributed equitably among eligible warehouse employees. 

Who allocates Amazon warehouse overtime?

In each of Amazon's warehouses, overtime shifts are controlled by the managers and supervisors who oversee the day-to-day operations of the facilities.

They develop scheduling strategies after carefully examining their current workloads, future projections, and the availability of staff to cover extra shifts. They also check to confirm that all Amazon warehouse work shifts are aligned with the company’s internal policies and relevant labor laws, which regulate compensation and the number of hours an employee can work.

Supervisors and managers are supported by Amazon’s automated systems, which use sophisticated algorithms to coordinate and approve overtime requests. The systems have been programmed to optimize staffing levels by distributing and allocating Amazon overtime opportunities based on employee availability, historical data on order volumes, and individual limits per shift.

The automation of overtime approval also helps to eliminate potential biases, as overtime opportunities are distributed according to predefined criteria rather than managerial discretion. Meanwhile, managers and supervisors maintain oversight of the entire automated system, intervening occasionally to resolve any developing operational challenges.

How much is Amazon overtime pay for warehouse workers? 

To calculate overtime pay on Amazon, start with the employee's regular hourly rate. 

Once the combined hourly earnings from Amazon are determined, apply the overtime rate of 1.5 times for any hours worked over 40 in a single workweek. So, if the worker's regular rate is $17/hour, their overtime wages would be $25.50/hour (1.5 x $17).

That means for 10 hours of overtime worked, the Amazon warehouse worker would earn an additional $255 in overtime pay ($25.50 x 10 hours).

The overtime pay is not inclusive of the supplementary amounts that you could earn as bonuses during your MET or VET shifts. Jesse explains that during peak seasons, for instance, Amazon sometimes adds what it calls ‘Surge Pay’ to its VET shifts. The offer can be tracked through the A to Z app, where it’s represented as a bonus of (+$2 – +$5) per hour. 

When is payment disbursed?

Amazon processes overtime payments on a weekly basis. Your earnings are included in the paycheck immediately following the week in which the overtime hours were completed.

Overtime is paid on your regular weekly paycheck,” confirms Shane

Warehouse employees typically receive the funds on Fridays – with direct deposit being the standard method of crediting both regular job earnings and extras such as overtime pay.

Amazon also offers an instant-pay feature called Anytime Pay for hourly warehouse employees. It allows them to cash out up to 70% of their earned pay whenever they choose.

Amazon's overtime policy for warehouses

Amazon's overtime policies for warehouses are built around the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state-specific labor laws. As such, its non-exempt employees – including entry-level Amazon warehouse associates – are guaranteed overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a week. Shifts are flexible enough to extend overtime opportunities to both permanent and seasonal hires, as well as part-time and full-time employees.  

Mandatory extra time

During peak times, such as the holiday season or Prime Day, Amazon implements a mandatory overtime policy for warehouse staff. Full-time employees are expected to be available for at least one overtime shift weekly, but for a maximum of 20 hours per week to avoid overworking. This is how the ecommerce giant fulfills its operational needs without compromising employee health and customer satisfaction. 

Voluntary extra time

Amazon additionally offers voluntary overtime, allowing warehouse employees to opt for extra shifts at their discretion. Voluntary overtime becomes especially lucrative during periods of heightened demand, with Amazon often offering increased pay rates or incentives. The company uses the expanded workforce to support its order fulfillment procedures while the staff could leverage the opportunities to maximize Amazon warehouse earnings

Tracking overtime hours

Amazon has also taken steps to ensure accurate overtime compensation. It relies on advanced time-tracking systems to record every employee’s work hours, in line with its company policy and legal standards. Employees can access their individual metrics through the Amazon A to Z app, from where they should be able to monitor their schedules and overtime. 

Tips for getting overtime shifts

Warehouse employees are, in the meantime, encouraged to communicate openly with their supervisors about availability and any overtime-related issues. You can always consult them to learn of upcoming peak periods in your area and plan accordingly for the accompanying overtime pay opportunities. The A to Z already has handy tools for scheduling Amazon overtime shifts well in advance of the busy shopping events. 

According to Shane, “Getting VET via the app can sometimes be as hard as getting Taylor Swift tickets online.” As such, he advises interested workers to proactively engage their managers and request to be directly added to overtime shifts when they come up.

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