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Amazon says employees may risk promotion if they ignore RTO mandate


Andy Jassy, chief executive officer of Amazon.Com Inc., during the GeekWire Summit in Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021.

David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amazon is dialing up the pressure on corporate employees who haven’t complied with the company’s return-to-office mandate. 

Staffers who don’t adhere to the policy, which requires employees to be in the office at least three days a week, may not get promoted, according to posts on Amazon’s internal website that were viewed by CNBC.

“Managers own the promotion process, which means it is their responsibility to support your growth through regular conversations and stretch assignments, and to complete all the required inputs for a promotion,” one post says. “If your role is expected to work from the office 3+ days a week and you are not in compliance, your manager will be made aware and VP approval will be required.”

A separate post on Amazon’s internal career platform for employees says, “In accordance with Amazon’s overall approach to promotions, employees are expected to work from their office 3+ days/week if that is the requirement of their role.”

The post goes on to say that managers are working with Amazon’s human resources group to “monitor adherence” to the in-person work requirement, and “this will continue as we evaluate promotion readiness.”

Some details of the new guidance were previously reported by Business Insider.

Brad Glasser, an Amazon spokesperson, confirmed the announcement in an email.

“Promotions are one of the many ways we support employees’ growth and development, and there are a variety of factors we consider when determining an employee’s readiness for the next level,” Glasser told CNBC. “Like any company, we expect employees who are being considered for promotion to be in compliance with company guidelines and policies.”

Amazon workers gather for a rally during a walkout event at the company’s headquarters on May 31, 2023 in Seattle, Washington.

David Ryder | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Tensions have flared between Amazon and some of its roughly 350,000 corporate employees since the company began its return-to-office push. In May, the company began requiring that staffers work out of physical offices at least three days a week, shifting from a Covid-era policy that left it up to individual managers to decide how often team members should be present.

Following the mandate, a group of employees walked out in protest at the company’s Seattle headquarters. Staffers also criticized how Amazon handled the decision to lay off 27,000 people as part of job cuts that began last year.

Employees circulated an internal petition urging CEO Andy Jassy to drop the return-to-office requirement, but the company hasn’t budged. In recent months, Amazon informed some staffers they must relocate to central office hubs in different states if they want to keep their jobs, prompting some to quit, CNBC previously reported. 

Amazon’s stance has changed multiple times since the start of the pandemic in 2020. At first, the company said it would return to an “office-centric culture as our baseline.” But as other tech companies leaned toward more flexible work arrangements, Amazon relaxed its position.

The company later announced the RTO mandate, which CEO Andy Jassy said would lead to a stronger company culture and collaboration between employees. Amazon has a remote work exception in place and considers requests on a case-by-case basis.

“Teams tend to be better connected to one another when they see each other in person more frequently,” Jassy said at the time. “There is something about being face-to-face with somebody, looking them in the eye, and seeing they’re fully immersed in whatever you’re discussing that bonds people together.”

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