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-supplied laptops on Wednesday, about a week after the company began notifying workers that their positions would be cut.

Amazon has told laid-off employees of the division that works on the Alexa virtual assistant to gather their belongings, pack up company-supplied laptops and prototypes, and download Amazon’s email and messaging service onto their personal devices by 5 p.m.: 00 on Wednesday, according to an email seen by the Seattle Times.

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

It’s not yet 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 the state. Washington’s information sector lost 5,900 jobs in October, according to a report by the Department of Employment Safety. With the most recent layoff announcements, it is set to lose up to 18,000 technology or technology-related jobs in just two months.

Amazon is making cuts in several divisions, including Devices, Books, HR and Stores. The group of devices includes Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, its Halo health device and its Astro home robot, as well as Kindles, smart home products and the Echo speaker. The stores cover most of Amazon’s consumer businesses, including online and physical stores, the marketplace for third-party sellers, and Prime.

Laid-off employees can still use personal devices to access company email, Amazon Chime’s communication platform, and its AtoZ app, which provides resources on compensation, benefits, and internal career opportunities. This is important for laid-off workers because Amazon has given them 60 days to look for new roles within the company. Laid-off workers will lose access to Slack, an instant messaging system.

“As you know, for the next few months, we will be focused on supporting you in your efforts to find your next role, both internally at Amazon and externally,” the email reads. “Because you are not expected to be working during this time period, we will be making some changes to your corporate access.”

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

The company confirmed the layoffs on Wednesday, a day after it began making cuts. Jassy told employees Thursday that the cuts will go into 2023, leaving some Amazon employees to wait until next year to learn if their jobs are safe.

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

That news has left employees struggling to figure out what the next few months might be like, from wondering if they could close on a new home to worrying about finding another job before their Amazon-sponsored work visa expires.

“How can we expect to be ‘Earth’s Largest Employer’ if literally everyone in the company is trying to figure out if they’re going to keep their jobs?” asked an employee in an internal Slack channel, #discussion-firing, viewed by the Seattle Times.

Some workers quickly got a response when a 15-minute meeting with their manager and an HR representative appeared on their calendars on Tuesday. Those workers were told they had 60 days to find a new job, within Amazon or outside, according to interviews with former employees.

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

An employee who was recently fired from Amazon’s device organization and asked to remain anonymous because he is looking for a new role, said the different internal roles he applied for led to dead ends.

Some managers rejected his request for an informational interview because his skills were not in line with the role offered. Most said there were simply too many applicants to schedule time for everyone, or cited the hiring freeze as a reason to say no.

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

That employee, who is 39 and from Federal Way, said her team held an on-site meeting in August, where executives first mentioned the group had “bloated a bit.” and that Amazon would be looking for ways to “trim the fat.” .” But leadership went to great lengths to assure employees they were trying to avoid layoffs.

Now, he says it’s unclear 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 business and it’s like, ‘Give us the breakdown so we can see what the competition is that we face [for new roles] and give us some reasons,’” ​​he said.

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

Amazon said it will help laid-off workers find new jobs. Describing the steps employees should take before losing access to corporate devices and buildings, the company wrote to employees, “Our goal is to help make these steps as simple as possible so you can focus on your research.” of work”.

Nearly a week after Amazon began scheduling meetings to discuss the layoffs, some employees say it’s still unclear what their severance package will look like. Employees of the human resources division were offered voluntary buyouts.

Amazon declined to share the impact of the job cuts on its Puget Sound workforce, which includes approximately 75,000 people in offices in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond, fulfillment centers in Kent, Sumner, Dupont and an airline hub at SeaTac .

The company has not yet filed any information with the Washington Department of Labor Safety, which records job losses in the state.

If the layoffs hit 10,000 workers, Amazon would lose 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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