- Amazon warehouse workers reportedly have to pee into bottles because they are too scared of missing their targets if they walk to the bathroom.
- Author James Bloodworth went undercover at an Amazon fulfilment centre in Staffordshire and said staff feared being disciplined for "idle time."
- A survey of Amazon workers released on Monday found those who reported feeling sick — even through pregnancy — were penalised for not turning up or taking breaks.
- Amazon said it didn't recognise the allegations as an accurate portrayal of its warehouse working conditions.
- The company disputed the survey findings and said it doesn't time toilet breaks.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos might be the richest man in the world, with a net worth of around $112 billion (£78.4 billon), but those working on his warehouse floors are so desperate to keep their jobs that they don't even take time to go the toilet.
Rushed fulfilment workers, who run around Amazon's warehouses "picking" products for delivery, have a "toilet bottle" system in place because the toilet is too far away, according to author James Bloodworth, who went undercover at a warehouse in Staffordshire, UK, for a book on low wages in Britain.
Bloodworth told The Sun: "For those of us who worked on the top floor, the closest toilets were down four flights of stairs. People just peed in bottles because they lived in fear of being disciplined over 'idle time' and losing their jobs just because they needed the loo."
Amazon is famous for tracking how fast its warehouse workers can pick and package items from its shelves, imposing strictly timed breaks and targets. It issues warning points for those who don't meet their goals or take extended breaks.&
A separate survey of Amazon workers, released on Monday, found almost three-quarters of fulfilment centre staff are afraid of using the toilet in case they miss their targets.
"[Targets] have increased dramatically. I do not drink water because I do not have time to go to the toilet," the survey quotes one anonymous worker as saying.
Another said: "The target grows every year. I do not have two more legs yet to make the 100% to pick, where you actually need to run and go to the toilet just during the break. Packing 120 products per hour is terribly heavy.
"You have to pack two products per minute. You do not have time to drink water because you go to the toilet after every evening sends messages to the scanner with the target and tells you to hurry."
The survey, compiled by worker campaign platform Organise, also found that workers felt considerably more anxious after joining Amazon.
Workers say they were punished for being sick
Another employee said she was ill while pregnant, and was still handed warning points.
And yet another said: "I turned up for my shift even though I felt like shit, managed 2 hours then I just could not do anymore. Told my supervisor and was signed off sick, I had a gastric bug (sickness and diarrhoea, very bad) saw my doc. Got a sick note with an explanation, but still got a strike."
Amazon disputed all of the allegations. The company said in a statement to Business Insider:
"Amazon provides a safe and positive workplace for thousands of people across the UK with competitive pay and benefits from day one.& We have not been provided with confirmation that the people who completed the survey worked at Amazon and we don’t recognize these allegations as an accurate portrayal of activities in our buildings.
"We have a& focus on ensuring we provide a great environment for all our employees and& last month Amazon was& named by LinkedIn& as the 7th most sought after place to work in the UK and ranked first place in the US.& Amazon also offers public tours of its fulfilment centres so customers can see& first-hand what happens after they click "buy" on Amazon."
Amazon said it doesn't time workers' toilet breaks, and that it set its performance targets based on previous worker performance. The company said it provided coaching to help people improve, and that it used "proper discretion" when it came to sick leave and absences from work.
The company also said it provided on-site occupational health and physiotherapy support, as well as legal, financial, and workplace guidance.