Amazon will begin locking out some laid-off employees on Wednesday

Amazon is locking some laid-off employees out of its offices and their company-issued laptops on Wednesday, about a week after the company began notifying workers about the job cuts.

According to an email, Amazon instructed laid-off employees from the department working on the virtual assistant Alexa to pick up their belongings, pack up company-issued laptops and prototypes, and use Amazon’s email and messaging service to get theirs by 5 p.m. Wednesday personal devices viewed by the Seattle Times.

Amazon last Tuesday began notifying employees of the loss of their jobs, the first in a series of layoffs Amazon expects to last through 2023 and affect around 10,000 jobs. That number is fluid as team leaders continue to make decisions, CEO Andy Jassy told employees last week.

It’s still not clear how Amazon’s job cuts will affect its Puget Sound headquarters, but the losses are part of a wave of layoffs sweeping the tech industry and state. Washington’s information sector lost 5,900 jobs in October, according to a report by the Occupational Safety and Health Department. With the latest layoff announcements, the company will lose up to 18,000 jobs in technical or tech-related roles in just under two months.

Amazon is making cuts in several areas of its business, including appliances, books, staff and stores. The device group includes Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, its healthcare device Halo and its home robot Astro, as well as Kindle, smart home products and the speaker Echo. Stores covers most of Amazon’s consumer business, including online and brick-and-mortar stores, the third-party marketplace, and Prime.

Laid-off employees can continue to use personal devices to access company email, Amazon’s communication platform Chime, and the AtoZ app, which provides resources on salaries, benefits, and internal job openings. That’s important for laid-off workers, as Amazon has given them 60 days to look for new jobs within the company. Fired workers lose access to Slack, an instant messaging system.

“As you know, our focus over the next few months is to support you in your efforts to find your next role, either internally at Amazon or externally,” the email reads. “Since you are unlikely to be working during this period, we will be making some changes to your company access.”

In response to questions about the lockdown announcement, Amazon said Monday it was working to support those affected and help them find new roles, including by ensuring they can access resources dedicated to internal job searches are relevant. The timing of access changes varies, Amazon said.

The company confirmed the layoffs last Wednesday, a day after it began the cuts. Jassy told employees Thursday the cuts will continue into 2023 — some Amazon employees will have to wait until next year to know if their jobs are safe.

“Our annual planning process extends into the new year, which means there will be further role cuts as leaders continue to make adjustments,” Jassy wrote in a note to employees.

That news led to employees scrambling to understand what the next few months might look like, from questions about whether they could close a new home to concerns about finding another job before their Amazon-sponsored work visa expires.

“How can we expect to be ‘The Greatest Employer on Earth’ when literally everyone at the company is trying to figure out if they’ll keep their job?” asked an employee on an internal Slack channel, #layoff-discussion, viewed by The Seattle Times.

Some workers got a quick response when a 15-minute meeting with their manager and a human resources representative popped up on their calendar last Tuesday. According to interviews with former employees, these workers were told they had 60 days to find a new job, whether at Amazon or externally.

But in November, Amazon froze hiring for corporate roles “for the next several months.”

An employee who was recently fired from Amazon’s device organization and asked to remain anonymous because she is looking for a new job, said the various internal positions she’s applied to lead to dead ends.

Some managers declined their requests for an informational interview because their skills did not match the position being offered. Most said there were just too many applicants to make time for everyone, or cited the hiring freeze as a reason for saying no.

Losing access to resources like Slack and a company laptop feels like “salt in the wound,” the employee said, because it adds additional complexity to the job search.

This 39-year-old Federal Way employee said her team had an on-site meeting in August where managers first mentioned that the group was “a bit bloated” and that Amazon would be looking at ways “to cut the fat “. .” But management did everything it could to reassure employees that they were doing their best to avoid layoffs.

Now she says it’s not clear how Amazon decided who to cut and who to keep. She and her colleagues are “hungry for answers,” she said.

“We talk about being a data-driven company and it’s like, ‘Give us the breakdown so we can see what competition we’re up against [for new roles] and give us a reason,’” she said.

“I have to ask myself why me?” she continued. “Everyone says it’s not my accomplishment, but I want someone who actually had to make that decision to answer for it.”

Amazon has claimed it will help laid-off workers find new jobs. Describing steps employees should take before losing access to company equipment and buildings, the company wrote to employees, “Our focus is to make these steps as seamless as possible so you can focus on your job search.” .”

Nearly a week since Amazon started scheduling meetings to discuss layoffs, some employees say it’s still unclear what their severance package will look like. Employees in the human resources department were offered voluntary takeovers.

Amazon has declined to share how the job cuts will affect its Puget Sound workforce, which includes about 75,000 employees in offices in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond, fulfillment centers in Kent, Sumner, Dupont and an air hub in SeaTac.

The company has not yet filed information with the Washington Department of Occupational Safety, which is tracking job losses in the state.

If the layoffs affected 10,000 workers, Amazon would lay off about 3% of its corporate employees and less than 1% of its global workforce of more than 1.5 million, made up mostly of hourly workers.

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