Amazon seeks to reduce workforce through voluntary buyout program

Amazon’s corporate headquarters sits virtually empty on March 10, 2020 in downtown Seattle, Washington. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Amazon has recommended that all employees in its Seattle office work from home, leaving much of downtown nearly empty of people.

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Amazon is offering voluntary buyouts to some of the company’s employees, as it looks for ways to cut its workforce beyond the massive layoffs already underway.

Offers of “voluntary departure” were sent Tuesday and Wednesday to certain divisions, including human resources and employee services, according to internal company documents seen by CNBC.

In exchange for leaving the company, Amazon will pay employees a “lump sum” severance pay equal to three months’ pay, plus one week’s pay for six months with the company, according to the documents. Employees will also receive a weekly allowance for 12 weeks, which can be used to offset COBRA premiums, and their insurance will continue through the end of December.

Employees have until November 1. 29 to resign, and they have until December 2. 5 to withdraw their request if they change their minds, according to the documents. Amazon will notify employees next month that their resignation has been accepted and their last day of employment will be December 1. 23.

The voluntary departure program is a “first step” to realign businesses within Amazon, the documents say, indicating that the divisions could face layoffs in the near future.

Amazon is encouraging employees to sign up for buyouts as CEO Andy Jassy steps up efforts to contain costs across the company.

This week, Amazon began what are expected to be the largest workforce reductions in its 28-year history as it watches a deteriorating economy and reckon with a workforce that has exploded during the pandemic.

Amazon hardware chief Dave Limp said Wednesday that the company has begun laying off employees in its devices and hardware unit. Employees of Amazon’s Alexa and Luna cloud gaming divisions appear to have been significantly affected by the job cuts so far.

Amazon is expected to cut up to 10,000 jobs, although the total number remains fluid as decisions are made on a company-by-company basis, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The continued layoff announcements, which are still ongoing, have frustrated some Amazon employees because the company has yet to send out a company-wide notice of the job cuts, the company said. CNBC a person familiar with the matter.

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