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Amazon has a paid leave problem that costs workers money—and sometimes their jobs

October 25, 2021, 1:10 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Sonia Sotomayor dissents on the Texas abortion ban, Citi will conduct an audit about the racial wealth gap, and Amazon has a paid leave problem. Have a productive Monday!

– Quick fix? Amazon’s biggest workforce problem? Paid leave.

New reporting published by the New York Times last night finds that Amazon’s internal systems for handling leave requests—for warehouse workers and corporate employees, for parental leave and medical leave—are woefully inadequate. Technical mishaps and bureaucracy have left workers missing money in their paychecks related to paid and unpaid leaves, fired when mistakenly marked as absent, or without benefits for months on end.

The problem grabbed Amazon’s attention last year when Oklahoma warehouse employee Tara Jones emailed Jeff Bezos after missing $90 in multiple paychecks: “I’m behind on bills, all because the pay team messed up,” she wrote to the Amazon founder and ex-CEO. “I’m crying as I write this email.”

Amazon acknowledges this is a problem. Bethany Reyes is a human resources employee at Amazon who has been tasked with fixing the issue, and she spoke to the NYT about the process. “A lot of times, because we’ve optimized for the customer experience, we’ve been focused on that,” she said.

So when a company spends decades becoming the go-to destination for customers around the globe, do employees get left behind? It’s certain that the technology for leave requests is less cutting-edge than Amazon’s customer-facing tech; workers who missed out on money, time, and jobs because of these mishaps were stuck dealing with automated phone trees and an internal app.

While the U.S. still lacks federally-mandated paid leave, leave processes matter even more at the nation’s second-largest private employer.

Read more of the Times‘ reporting here.

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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