Last Updated on 2023-11-15

How Shifts Work at Amazon Warehouse

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

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Phil Grossman

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

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Ismael Flores

T3 with experience in a Fulfillment Center and Amazon Corporate. He has 3+ years of experience working in the Waterspider, Problem Solver, Stower, and Compliance Specialist roles

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Justin “JJ” James

T1 Asssociate in a Delivery Station with 2+ years of experience working in the Stower, Picker, and Stager roles

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Dustin Stowell

T2 in a Sortation Center with 3+ years of experience working in the Problem Solver, Scanner, Stager, Picker, Stower, Waterspider, Material Handler, and Unloader roles

Amazon groups all of its jobs according to a level system, with Level 1 (L1) being the lowest and Level 12 (L12) being the highest — that’s Andy Jassy’s level. 

If you’re hired for an L1 or L3 job (L2 jobs are exceedingly rare, so we won’t cover them here), you’ll be a shift worker making an hourly wage, such as a fulfillment center associate

If you’re L4, you may either earn an hourly wage  or be paid a salary for regular hours. All jobs L5 and above are salaried positions with standard full-time schedules. 

Maintaining the sheer scale of Amazon’s operations requires loads of workers filling all sorts of positions at practically all hours, so shift workers have lots of shifts to choose from. You can also choose between working part time, reduced time, full time, or flex time.  

What are the shifts at Amazon?

If you work at Amazon, you might be working any of the following shift times:

  • Amazon early morning shift: 
    • Start time: 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.
    • End time: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    • Notes: Most early-morning workers earn more per hour. 
  • Amazon day shift: 
    • Start time: 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
    • End time: 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    • Notes: This shift is closest to a classic nine-to-five. 
  • Amazon night shift: 
    • Start time: 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.
    • End time: 5:00 am to 7:00 a.m.
    • Notes: Most night workers earn more per hour.
  • Amazon weekend shift:
    • Start time: Anytime between 7:30 p.m. on Friday to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday
    • End time: Anytime from Friday night to Sunday night
    • Notes: These shifts are primarily for workers who want to take an extra shift over the weekend, not for exclusive weekend work. Hourly pay is often higher during these shifts. 

Note that many of these shifts are 10 or 12 hours, which is typical for Amazon warehouse work. There’s also a shift pay differential for early morning, night, and weekend shifts — if you work those, you’ll be paid a higher hourly rate. 

At fulfillment centers, you can expect to work 10-12 hour shifts with two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch (the precise amount of break time varies from warehouse to warehouse, in accordance with state law). That might seem long, but the brightside is that you usually only work four days per week and get three days off. Shifts can be early morning, day, night, or weekend. 

Ismael Flores, who has been working at Amazon for over three years, says, “when I was working in a fulfillment center we were given 30/30/15 minute breaks. Breaks are legally required. During a 12-hour shift, a break would be every 4 hours (more or less).”

At sortation centers, shifts are typically 3-5 hours. You can double up shifts (do two shifts back to back) if you want to work longer. You’ll also need to be prepared to flex your shifts up or down an hour — that means that you can be notified during your shift that you’ll need to leave an hour early or stay an hour late. Shifts can be early morning, day, night, or weekend. 

At delivery stations, shifts are between 1-5 hours, and you can work up to 12 hours per day by combining shifts. You’ll typically only be able to work early morning, night, or weekend shifts. 

You can also choose how you distribute those shifts throughout the week:

  • Amazon anytime shifts let you choose when you work without adhering to a set schedule. You can work as few as four hours per week and as many as 60. If you decide to work more than 40, you’ll earn overtime. If you select a shift and then change your mind, there’s no penalty for canceling. You can choose between early morning, night, and weekend shifts. 
  • Amazon flexible shifts are the same as anytime shifts, but you can work early morning, day, night, and weekend shifts (day shifts are not available in anytime shifts). 
  • Amazon donut shifts are Monday to Tuesday and Thursday to Friday. Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday are off. 
  • Amazon RT shifts give you four days off per week instead of three, but you’ll need to work three 12-hour shifts in a row. You’ll usually be expected to work night shifts. 
  • Amazon swing shifts are in between day and night shifts, for example, starting at 10:00 a.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m.

Ismael notes that although night shifts “are only scheduled 38/hrs per week, they are still considered full-time positions like the 40/hour/week shifts, so the employees are given access to full benefits (health, dental, vision, legal, 401k, etc.).”

How do part-time, full-time, reduced-time, and flex-time schedules work?

When you work at Amazon, you can choose between part-time, full-time, reduced-time, and flex-time for most roles. 

Part-time employees work 20-29 hours per week, full-time 40 hours per week, and reduced time 30-39 hours per week. 

Flex-time workers are required to work at least 4 hours per week but can work up to 60 hours. If you decide to work more than 40 hours per week, you’re paid overtime. 

All of these schedules are easily workable, so you can work at Amazon no matter whether you want part-time or full-time work — or anything in between. 

If you’re not working a flex schedule, your schedule will (unsurprisingly) be less flexible. You’ll work a set schedule, like Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 8am to 6pm. Over time, you may get a bit more flexibility, including the ability to change your shift.

Justin “JJ” James, an L1 DS associate with two years of experience, adds that “some facilities offer more flexibility than others. My facility often offers VTO (voluntary time off) which allows an employee to leave early. There are also options to take a leave of absence, if you'd like to take extended time off. Amazon employees also accrue unpaid time off (UPT) for every shift they work. If an employee has enough UPT, they can be absent or late to shifts. However, you will be terminated if you have negative UPT, so time off should be used wisely.”

If you’re studying and need to adjust your schedule around your classes, Amazon can usually accommodate you. Ismael says, “there are ways employees can adjust their schedule, such as getting work accommodations for school (ex. late start, early release, or canceling the shift), which will extend until the class is done; there is no punishment for this, Amazon values career growth. When making an adjustment like this, the employee must submit a form to HR with their school schedule and update their own schedule as much as they need (they cannot add more hours or move shifts, only reduce their current schedule).”

However, Dustin Stowell notes that your mileage in regards to accommodations may vary depending on your facility. “My sort center only allows part-time associates to request scheduling accommodations. For full-time associates like me, I am expected to utilize my time off options like UPT/PTO.”

If you want to permanently switch to a different schedule, you can usually apply to transfer at any time, but you’ll only be approved if there’s an opening, and there may be restrictions for new hires at some facilities. 

How long are Amazon shifts?

Broadly speaking, Amazon offers three different shift lengths: 4 hours, 10 hours, and 12 hours. The 4 hour shifts are more common at sortation centers and delivery stations, while the longer shifts are more common at fulfillment centers. 

However, at sortation centers, you may work 3 or 5 hour shifts as you’ll be expected to agree to flex shifts — that means that if you sign up for a 4-hour shift, you can be notified during your shift that you’ll need to work one hour longer or shorter. 

At delivery stations, shifts are typically 1-5 hours long.

How do Amazon pickup shifts work? 

Flex shifts, also called anytime shifts and pickup shifts, are available to anyone working a flex schedule. 

Each week, Amazon adds shifts to the A to Z site, which you’ll sign up for once you’re hired. The specific day and time that Amazon posts the shifts varies by warehouse. 

Once the shifts are posted, you can grab as many as you like (up to 60 hours). But keep in mind that Amazon warehouses employ a lot of people, so although you can choose your shifts, the ones you want won’t always be available. If you want the best shot at getting your desired shift, learn when new shifts are added, log in to the app a few minutes early, and try to grab the shift as fast as possible. 

Can I change my shift at Amazon?

Amazon makes it easy to swap shifts and cancel shifts, and it provides several ways to do so.

Shift swaps and cancellations

To swap shifts, log in to the A to Z site, select the shift you want to swap, select “Manage,” choose “Swap Shift,” and select the shift you want to swap to. 

It usually takes 48 hours for your shift swap to be approved, so if you want to swap to a shift that’s in less than two days, you may run into issues.

You can also cancel shifts up to 24 hours in advance with no penalty. To do so, select the shift on your calendar, and press the cancel button. 

If you want to cancel less than 24 hours before your shift starts, you’ll need to email your manager instead. But be aware that canceling so late will result in an attendance point — luckily, those go away after 30 days. 

Unpaid time off (UPT) and paid time off (PTO)

All Amazon employees accumulate PTO and UPT as part of their benefits. If you want to cancel a shift and have enough UPT saved up, you can simply not show up — just make sure your UPT balance doesn’t go negative, as that can lead to termination. 

You can also request to use your PTO (vacation days). Unlike UPT, this requires approval, and there are “blackout periods,” during which you can’t use your vacation days. 

Long-term changes

If you want to change your shift for an extended period of time, you have three options:

  1. Request a leave of absence, which will allow you to take extended unpaid time off.
  2. Request accommodations for your studies. To do so, you’ll need to provide HR with your class schedule.
  3. Apply for a transfer to another schedule. New hires may need to wait a while before applying. If there are no openings available for your preferred schedule, you won’t be approved. 

How do Amazon shift abbreviations work?

All shifts at Amazon have abbreviations that describe them. Here are the shift codes you should know:

  • First letter: Day or night
    • D: Day
    • N: Night
    • S: Swing
  • Second letter: Shift days 
    • A: Sunday-Wednesday
    • B: Wednesday-Saturday
    • C: Monday-Tuesday, Thursday-Friday (donut shift)
    • E: Monday-Friday
    • F: Monday-Thursday
    • H: Friday-Monday
    • K: Tuesday-Friday
    • L: Saturday-Tuesday
  • First number: Overtime day
    • 1: Sunday
    • 2: Monday
    • 3: Tuesday
    • 4: Wednesday
    • 5: Thursday
    • 6: Friday
    • 7: Saturday
  • Final set of numbers: Shift start time, written in 24-hour time. 

For example, the shift DF2-0630 means a day shift from Monday to Thursday with a Monday overtime day starting at 6:30 am. 

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