It has been reported that Amazon will pay a £50 per week 'attendance bonus' to permanent employees in the run up to Christmas. To receive the payment, employees must have 100% attendance and punctuality, subject to limited exceptions including those which are Covid-related. 

Some people may be surprised that turning up to work on time has to be incentivised in this way. It will be a basic requirement of most employment contracts that an employee must attend work for their agreed and contracted hours to get paid. It may be less costly to employers to ensure that contractual obligations are being met rather than making additional payments to induce compliance, but it may take longer to achieve the employers' desired aim - having staff available to perform their duties.

Before you think about paying employees more to do what they are already expected to do (or before you ask your boss for an additional incentive to go to work), you may want to think about the message that this sends to other staff too. For £50, some people may prefer an extra 15 minutes in bed and the occasional 'duvet day' where they call in sick, regardless of any genuine illness. Is this somehow the true (low) expectation Amazon has of its employees? 

Covid has also forced employers to trust employees more as they work from home. Is a return to presenteeism to be expected, or are more useful measure of performance likely to continue?  This will depend business to business, but good practice and new methods of employee assessment do not need to be temporary when a return to the workplace happens.

It's no secret that Amazon has faced challenges in the past few years, especially where pay and working conditions are concerned. Recent news of a £1,000 sign-up bonus for new starters has not (yet) been matched by other employers, but it may become more normal as the battle for workers intensifies in the wake of Brexit and the Covid pandemic. Whether this leads to improved conditions and higher wages, as opposed to occasional headline-grabbing incentives, is yet to be seen.

If you have any concerns or questions about incentivising employees, or taking action to ensure performance and attendance expectations are met, do get in touch at kevin.poulter@freeths.co.uk.