Amazon delivery drivers were surprised to learn earlier this year that the e-commerce giant would at times dip into their tips to cover their promised wages. That’s about to change, according to an e-mail the company sent drivers last week.
Amazon will start to give a full breakdown of how much Flex drivers, who deliver for the company’s Prime Now, Fresh, or Whole Foods services, are paid for each shift, including how much of the total payment comes from the tip.
The Times has also confirmed that the company will no longer use supplemental earnings or tips to cover the minimum pay, and will pay drivers their promised minimum out of the company’s own pocket.
The disclosure comes after the Los Angeles Times revealed in February that Amazon would at times use tips from customers to contribute to drivers’ guaranteed wages, reducing the amount Amazon needed to pay. At the time, Amazon guaranteed $18 to $25 an hour, but contributed an average of $19 an hour to that pledged minimum hourly pay.
“Amazon will always contribute at least $15 per scheduled hour to driver pay, and often more, based on location and demand,” Amazon spokeswoman Rena Lunak said in response to questions. “As always, for deliveries with tipping opportunities, drivers will receive 100% of the tips.”
In the e-mail, the company characterized the commitment to paying at least $15 and up to $19 an hour out of its coffers for all shifts as a raise from its previous minimum contribution.
“While earnings vary by region and block, with the change to Amazon’s minimum contribution, we expect nationwide average earnings for these blocks to increase to more than $27 per hour,” the e-mail to drivers read.
One driver, who asked not to be named for fear of being deactivated, celebrated the announcement.
“Finally,” the driver said. “This is definitely a win.”
Others are expressing confusion in Facebook groups about whether this would actually be an increase, given the lack of transparency previously around how much Amazon was contributing toward their hourly pay. In the past, drivers were promised a minimum of $18 an hour. However, in some cases that did not all come from Amazon.