Amazon, which has been under fire over its pay for low-ranking workers, is increasing its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The move, announced Tuesday, applies to all full-time, part-time and seasonal employees across the U.S., as well as temporary staff, even those retained through agencies. It also applies to workers at subsidiaries such as Whole Foods. The new pay floor takes effect at the start of November.
What’s more, Amazon (AMZN)—the second-largest private-sector employer in the U.S.—is now lobbying the government to increase the federally-mandated minimum wage, set nine years ago, from $7.25 an hour.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said CEO Jeff Bezos. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”
Bezos is the world’s richest man by a large margin—he is worth around $165 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index—but last year Amazon’s median pay was just $28,446, which works out to around $14 an hour.
The company’s announcement comes just ahead of the holiday hiring season. By way of comparison, Walmart’s minimum wage is $11 an hour and Target is aiming to achieve $15 an hour by 2020.
Amazon has recently been targeted over its pay by Senator Bernie Sanders, who last month introduced a less-than-subtly-named piece of legislation called the Stop Bad Employers by Zering Out Subsidies—”Stop BEZOS“—Act. The proposed law says companies that don’t pay a living wage should have to reimburse the tax authorities for the federal benefits paid out to their low-wage workers.
Sanders claims many Amazon workers need food stamps to feed their families, though Amazon has disputed his figures.
“If Amazon is so proud of the way it treats its workers, it should make public the number of people it hires through temporary staffing agencies like Integrity Staffing Solutions and make public the hourly rate and benefits those workers earn,” Sanders said in a statement in late August.
On Tuesday, many Twitter users credited Sanders with successfully pressuring Amazon into raising its pay for direct and agency staff.