Last Updated on 2024-03-06

How VTO (Voluntary Time Off) Works 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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Alex Rodriguez

T1 Asssociate with experience across Decant, Waterspider, Stower, Packer, and Receive Dock roles

Have you ever wanted to take the day off from work, but had no time to cover the absence? Amazon Warehouse is unique among employers in their offering of an option referred to as Voluntary Time Off (VTO). This option allows employees to accept time off from work, no usage of personal vacation time required. There are even opportunities at times to take partial VTO, say in the case that you preferred to arrive late or leave early on a particular day.

Read on to find out how VTO can benefit you as an Amazon employee working as an entry level associate, as well as any potential drawbacks of accepting it. 

What is Voluntary Time Off (VTO)?

Voluntary Time Off is time off that an employee can accept on shifts they are scheduled to work on without having it count against their attendance hours or using up any of their own time off hours. It essentially gives them the day off without any repercussions. Since Amazon Warehouse needs are constantly fluctuating, offering VTO is a way for Amazon to adjust to business needs without having it affect their employees’ jobs.

Accepting VTO is completely voluntary, and there is no obligation to accept it; employees are free to work as scheduled even if they are given the option for VTO. 

At times, there will be options for partial VTO. This is when instead of getting the whole day off, employees are given the option to take a certain number of hours off from their schedules instead. For example, an employee who normally works a 10-hour shift may be given an option for a 2-hour VTO, leaving them to work an 8-hour shift instead without penalty.  

How and when is VTO offered?

VTO is offered to L1  (entry-level) employees only. VTO offers are not performance based; low-performing workers do not get more VTO offers than higher-performing workers. All L1 Level employees are eligible for VTO offers at random.  

However, those who work in indirect roles do tend to be placed on an Exempt list. This is because these roles, such as problem solving, are crucial to site operations despite their T1 status. If you work in an indirect role and want to be considered for VTO, speak with your manager and let them know of your interest to be removed from the Exempt list. While not guaranteed, it is possible you may be considered for VTO in the future.

VTO is offered to employees either through a notification on the A-To-Z app, Amazon’s employee app, or in-person. If you receive a notification through the app, you can accept it right then and there, and have your shift clear automatically. Otherwise, if you receive it in person, a Process Assistant or Manager will have to scan your badge to manually excuse your time before you leave the building. 

Once VTO offers are assigned, acceptance of them can be competitive. This means that if you receive an offer for it and you truly want to take it, you need to accept it as soon as possible before someone else takes your spot. Amazon tends to offer more VTO than it expects to get accepted, since not everyone is expected to take it. Once Amazon reaches its desired VTO quotas, any existing VTO offers will become null. For this reason, it is imperative that you accept a VTO offer through the app within minutes, if not seconds, of receiving a VTO offer, before it reads “Full.” In person, accept it as soon as it is offered to you instead of changing your mind later, as it will likely be gone by then. 

Pros and Cons of Accepting VTO

VTO is unpaid time. This means that while your time will be excused, you will not get paid for it and thereby might miss those earnings goals you planned for yourself. This is the main reason why many employees choose not to accept VTO even when it is offered to them.

Still, many others find the offer appealing, especially if they have other sources of income or just want the time off to take care of personal matters.

An added bonus of accepting VTO is accumulating Unpaid Time Off for the hours you are excused as if you were working those hours. This accumulation only applies to Unpaid Time, however; you will not accumulate any Paid Time Off. 

There is no penalty for accepting offered VTO. Employees are free to accept it as often as it is offered without repercussions. You cannot get fired for taking too much of it nor will it impact any potential long term career prospects. 

It is important to note that once you accept VTO, you cannot take it back. This means that you cannot go into work if you have already accepted VTO, even if you change your mind after the fact. For this reason, make sure you are willing to take the loss of pay in exchange for the excused time off before accepting any VTO offer, as it cannot be canceled.

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