Amazon Overtime Pay

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Amazon employs over 1.5 million people. That’s a lot of employees, and the company needs to ensure that it pays them correctly every pay period.

Amazon follows United States wage and overtime laws, paying overtime to hourly and non-exempt associates working more than 40 hours in a given workweek.

However, since Amazon operates across all states, it also has to abide by state laws surrounding overtime. Some states require companies to pay overtime after hour eight in one day. 

Still, with the massive number of employees Amazon has, it’s safe to assume that overtime isn’t very freely given, although it is more readily available during peak shopping periods, like around the holidays. 

Learn more about Amazon overtime pay and how it works in this guide. 

How Overtime Pay Works at Amazon

If you ask anyone who works at Amazon about their benefits, you’ll probably hear about Amazon’s bereavement policy and how Amazon pays better-than-average PTO. But you probably won’t hear much about its overtime policy.

That’s because, like other companies subject to laws set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Amazon has to pay overtime to eligible employees. It’s not so much a benefit as it is a right.

The FLSA states that any employee who doesn’t meet its criteria for an exemption is considered non-exempt for the purpose of FLSA overtime laws. Non-exempt workers must get paid overtime at the rate of 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for every hour they work past 40 hours in a workweek. 

This is a crucial part of payroll compliance for employers, including Amazon. Businesses that don’t pay overtime or miscalculate overtime can be subject to retroactive pay plus penalties for neglecting their responsibilities regarding proper overtime pay.  

Many Amazon workers fall into the non-exempt category, so they’re entitled to overtime pay. Amazon’s workweek runs from Sunday through Saturday, so the company calculates employee hours spread throughout those days to determine overtime. 

In most cases, Amazon pays a minimum of 1.5x overtime pay, although some employees may earn double overtime for working during peak periods. Some employees also have shift differentials that can affect their overtime rate and boost their overall earnings.

Something important to note here is that Amazon Flex workers—those who make deliveries for Amazon packages—are independent contractors (ICs). ICs are not eligible for overtime under the FLSA.

Instead, Amazon Flex workers set their own schedules and are never required to work past 40 hours a week. They can choose to, but they won’t receive overtime pay for doing so. 

In addition to FLSA regulations, Amazon must comply with different laws set by each state. States can create overtime laws, too, which are usually more favorable toward employees than FLSA laws. 

Here are a few examples:

  • California: In addition to qualifying for overtime pay for any hours worked past 40 in a workweek, California employees can earn 1.5x overtime for working more than eight hours in one day. If the employee works for seven days in a row during one workweek, they’re entitled to double their regular rate for hours worked past eight hours. Double time is also required if an employee works past 12 hours on any given work day. 
  • Colorado: Colorado entitles employees to get paid 1.5x their regular rate as overtime pay if they work over 12 hours in one day. Any time past 12 hours is compensated at the overtime rate. This is in addition to overtime paid for hours worked past 40 in one workweek.
  • Nevada: Nevada’s laws differ quite a bit from other states, basing its overtime on the state’s minimum wage. Employees earning less than 1.5x the minimum wage get overtime for any hours worked past eight hours in a work day. If they make more than that, they still earn overtime for hours worked past 40 unless they agree to work four 10-hour shifts.

Amazon operates in all states, so it’s subject to state laws if they’re more favorable to the employee than federal law. 

VET, MET, and Maximizing Amazon Overtime Pay

Amazon allows some employees to earn voluntary extra time (VET), which are additional hours workers can sign on for outside of their usual schedule. If an employee doesn’t work Thursday, for example, and they want extra hours, they can sign up for an unclaimed VET shift.

These shifts aren’t mandatory, and they’re paid at an employee’s regular rate. However, if the employee ends up getting overtime for the week due to that extra shift, they’re still eligible for overtime pay for any extra hours earned for a day or the workweek, depending on their state.

Amazon employees interested in taking on VET shifts can speak to their managers to request a shift or let them know they can grab future shifts. It can be a good way to dive into overtime territory if you normally don’t get 40 hours a week.

Some Amazon employees are also subject to MET, or mandatory extra time. MET is usually reserved for peak periods at Amazon, requiring employees to work a shift that puts them into overtime hours to assist with surges. Like VET, MET is eligible for overtime.

Amazon is only required to let an employee know about a MET shift by lunch break the day before the shift. However, managers typically try to let staff know about an upcoming MET shift sooner than that if they can. 

If an employee can’t work their MET shift, termination is possible unless they have an excusable reason or want to use their accrued PTO instead. 

You might also hear about another type of Amazon pay known as surge pay. This is reserved for Amazon Flex drivers who pick up shifts during peak periods. Because Amazon Flex drivers aren’t eligible for overtime, their surge pay doesn’t affect their ability to get overtime.

For employees eligible for VET and MET shifts, the potential to earn a good amount of extra cash from overtime hours is there, especially if they already get a shift differential for peak hours. Most commonly, Amazon Fulfillment Center associates and customer care workers are eligible for VET and MET shifts.

They can also get shift differentials for working weekend and evening shifts, which adds money to their regular pay. Because shift differentials are included in overtime calculations, they, combined with VET and MET overtime shifts, can absolutely enhance an Amazon worker’s earnings.

Still, it’s important not to assume that you’ll get regular paychecks with overtime if you work one of these roles. While you might get a good amount of overtime during the holiday season or around specific Amazon sale times, it’s not typically a year-round occurrence. 

If you’re looking for little to no overtime hours, look for salaried roles with Amazon instead, like area managers or software developers. 

Base Pay At Amazon and Overtime Pay Outlook

According to Payscale data, entry-level Amazon roles, like warehouse associates and pickers, typically pay an average of $16 -$17 per hour as of March 2024. 

However, the outlook for increased earnings is promising, with Amazon announcing in late 2023 its plans to hire hundreds of thousands of more workers and bump up average pay to $20.50. Amazon also said that the average warehouse employee will get about a 13% increase in their earnings over the next three years.

So, someone starting at $20 per hour, for example, should expect a raise of about $2.60 per hour after working with Amazon for three years. 

Assuming you start working at Amazon today at the average pay of $20.50, your overtime pay would be $30.75. Earning just three hours of overtime in a week could bring in almost $100 ($92.25). 

If you have 10 hours of overtime on a paycheck, your total pay for two weeks would be $1,947.50. For 20 hours of overtime, your pay would increase to $2,255. 

Because Amazon has extremely busy periods during the year, like Prime Day, spring sales, and Black Friday/Cyber Monday, hourly employees should expect to be eligible for at least some overtime. It’s comparable to other massive retailers like Walmart and Lowe’s. 

Still, you shouldn’t expect it to be a regular occurrence throughout the year unless you can pick up several VET and MET shifts.

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