Amazon created quite a ruckus this week when it was revealed that it was requiring low-wage, low-skill warehouse workers to sign non-compete clauses when taking a job with the company. This requirement even extended to seasonal workers and prohibited them from “[Engaging] in or [supporting] the development, manufacture, marketing, or sale of any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon” for a period of 18 months.
Amazon even held their workers’ feet to the fire if they were laid off, making it even harder to find work once leaving the Amazon umbrella.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (Source: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)
Given Amazon’s massive size in retail, it would be hard for those already struggling in a tough economy to find similar work once their seasonal gig was up, or if they decided that working in one of Amazon’s notoriously “toasty” warehouses just wasn’t a right fit. Needless to say, the flak that Amazon received following The Verge’s original report was enough to cause the company to change its mind.
The Guardian reports that Amazon has now decided to remove the non-compete clause from its employment contracts and will not subject its workers to the likewise restrictive demands. For its part, Amazon claims that the “clause hasn’t been applied to hourly associates, and we’re removing it.”
Amazon’s decision to back down is the right move in this writer’s opinion, as non-competes are typically reserved for high-skilled, white collar jobs instead of those that are generally seen as being on the bottom of the totem pole. And since low-wage workers aren’t really in a position to negotiate a contract for a job that could make or break the financially, Amazon held all the power over prospective employees.