The Sunday Times has reported that Amazon is penalising their staff for taking sick days at its warehouse in Scotland.

The report found that as part of its disciplinary process, Amazon issues “penalty points” which once accumulated, results in not only counselling but disciplinary meetings. If you get 4 or 6 points then you can find yourself actually being dismissed!

The shocking extent of it goes as far as a female employee being given two penalty points for being hospitalised for three days with a kidney infection, for which she produced a hospital note. In a stroke of luck, however, an appeal allowed her to knock one of those points off…

The investigation revealed that staff are denied bathroom breaks, are forced to work ‘compulsory’ extra days with short notice and some members of their staff have even resorted to staying in tents near the warehouse in Dunfermline because they can’t afford to commute there every day.

Read the full story.

But this is not the first time that Amazon has come under fire. The GMB trade union claimed that workers were getting ill from the stress of the poor working conditions.

The Guardian wrote an article that said, “Staff at Amazon’s UK operation have developed physical and mental illnesses because of the “regimes” they work under”.

The GMB’s lead officer for Amazon, Elly Baker, told the New York Times that employees at the online retailer’s distribution centres across the UK were under pressure to be an “above-average Amazon robot”.

But it seems this kind of poor working practice is not limited to Amazon.

Sports Direct has also been condemned with the parliamentary committee saying that their staff are, “not treated as humans”. You can read more about that here.

Uber, the taxi-hailing app, is also being scrutinised by a report by Labour MP Frank Fields, titled not ironically, Sweated Labour: Uber and the ‘gig; economy. You can read the full report here.

We wrote an article about the gig economy and the case of Hermes workers in our newsletter. If you are interested in signing up to our bi-monthly newsletter fill out the form below:

These policies may be legal, and in truth, we are seeing a trend in stricter absence policies which could be in part a reaction to the ongoing productivity crisis in the UK; however the allegations are still going to be investigated by the business select committee MP, Ian Wright.

Not only are they going to face potential legal ramifications but also serious damages to their brand images. That doesn’t just mean they could end up facing issues with retention and acquisition in the near future but also losing customer loyalty.

The way you treat your employees has a domino effect on your entire business. It paints a picture of who you are and what you represent. Having staff sleeping in tents and exhausted to the point of becoming ill doesn’t scream, “ethical business I want to spend my money with.”

You can focus on service delivery, productivity and profits and keeping sickness and absence levels down by having engaged, happy and healthy employees instead of the disturbing picture painted by this report.

If you want support with your compliance and employee engagement, give us a call for a chat on 01256 328 428 or click here to fill out our callback request form.