A review of Amazon’s employee numbers last Autumn put their global headcount at just under 542,000, leading to them being compared – in size at least - to a small country. Responsible employers, like responsible nations, respect a duty of care to their people. This week Amazon have come under fire on that front.

Like many leaders in retail and distribution, Amazon rely on temporary, seasonal staff. People taken on to cover the busy Christmas period know very well that their employment comes with an expiry date. The disputes we’ve seen this week centred on how much human consideration, if any, is given when that date comes up.

Reports in national newspapers gave unpleasant examples of temp staff at Amazon distribution centres being sacked part of the way through night shifts and ordered off the premises at midnight. In addition to being given zero notice and no opportunity to line up alternative employment, some have told of being left to wait outside warehouses in the biting cold for up to six hours until public transport services were available again.

This was no fairy tale employment opportunity. Sacked on the stroke of midnight, staff transport might not have turned into a pumpkin but for some people it seems to have disappeared altogether.

At the time of these people’s sackings their seasonal employment contracts, via an intermediary recruitment agency, still had a month still to run. The agency has attracted as much criticism as Amazon, who stated in their defence that when staff are let go outside public transport hours, they are prepared to offer bus and taxi transport to get them home.

When a major employer sets up shop at a new site, optimism and expectation among the local workforce is often very high. Sometimes it’s difficult to maintain those levels of positivity, but there are steps we can all take to maintain goodwill. Firstly and obviously, we can communicate.

If contracts are about to come to an end a month early, then surely employers and agencies can communicate with each other and with staff in a way that gives notice and softens the blow. If transport is available to get people safely home instead of literally leaving them out in the cold, then surely that message can be relayed in good time.

These things matter to Jane Systems. We’ve dedicated the past two decades to improving communication between employers and employees with HR software that actively promotes interactivity and timely sharing of information. If a temporary contract is coming to an end, we believe it should happen without rancour and leave both parties happier for the experience. If a permanent member of staff is struggling to adjust to their new role, we believe systems that deliver swift onboarding, clear expectations and a positive path to on the job training and development can turn the situation around and help them prosper.

Put simply, we believe in communication.


Most of us don’t expect work to be a fairy tale. It’s reasonable, though, to expect it to be a positive and satisfying experience. Jane Systems will help you meet those expectations. Contact us to find out more.

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