Trending: Amazon employee at Seattle-area warehouse tests positive for COVID-19
Inside an Amazon Prime Now delivery hub in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Amazon is planning to hire an additional 100,000 warehouse workers to keep up with the volume of orders placed by customers amid a global COVID-19 outbreak.

Amazon said Monday it will spend more than $350 million to increase wages for workers in fulfillment centers, delivery operations, and retail stores. The wage increases will be approximately $2 per hour in the U.S., £2 per hour in the U.K., and approximately €2 per hour in other European countries.

“Getting a priority item to your doorstep is vital as communities practice social-distancing, particularly for the elderly and others with underlying health issues,” said Dave Clark, head of Amazon’s worldwide operations team, in a blog post. “We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year.”

Previously: Amazon delivery infrastructure strained as COVID-19 outbreak sparks surge in online shopping

The plans would grow Amazon’s global workforce to nearly 900,000. The company said it had 798,000 workers around the globe in January, up 23 percent year-over-year.

Thousands of Americans are telecommuting and self-isolating to slow the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that quickly escalated to a global pandemic. Amazon’s Prime and Fresh delivery services are grappling with high demand and inventory issues, as warehouse workers report increased order volumes.

“We also know many people have been economically impacted as jobs in areas like hospitality, restaurants, and travel are lost or furloughed as part of this crisis,” Clark said in the blog post. “We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back.”

Amazon is out of stock on a number of household staples and popular items, according to the company’s COVID-19 response page.

“You will also notice that some of our delivery promises are longer than usual,” the site says. “We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability on all of our products, and bring on additional capacity to deliver all of your orders.”

The Amazon Fresh website warns grocery deliveries “may be temporarily unavailable due to increased demand.” Amazon Fresh did not have any delivery windows available in the Seattle area as of Monday morning.

Amazon expanded its sick policy to provide two weeks of paid time off to all employees last week and advised telecommuting for any workers who can. That isn’t a possibility for the warehouse workers and delivery drivers that power Amazon’s e-commerce business, though.

Amazon launched a $25 million fund to help its network of independent delivery drivers, Amazon Flex workers, and seasonal employees deal with disruptions caused by the outbreak last week. The Amazon Relief Fund will provide grants equal to about two weeks’ pay for workers who have the virus or are quarantined. Grants are also available to workers facing financial or other hardships.

The hiring spree was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

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