Amazon wants to reduce its workforce through a voluntary buyout program

Amazon’s headquarters is virtually empty on March 10, 2020 in downtown Seattle, Washington. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Amazon advised all employees in its Seattle office to work from home, leaving much of the downtown area near empty.

Jan Moore | Getty Images

Amazon offers voluntary buyouts for some employees within the company as it looks for ways to reduce its workforce in addition to the massive layoffs already underway.

According to internal company documents seen by CNBC, offers for “voluntary redundancy” were sent to some divisions on Tuesday and Wednesday, including human resources and personnel services.

In exchange for leaving the company, Amazon will provide employees with “flat-rate” severance pay equal to three months’ wages, plus one week’s salary for every six months of employment with the company, the documents said. Employees also receive a weekly allowance for 12 weeks, which can be used to offset COBRA premiums, and their insurance continues through the end of December.

Employees have until Nov. 29 to resign, and they have until Dec. 5 to withdraw their application if they change their mind, the documents said. Amazon will notify employees next month that their resignations have been accepted and that their last day of work is December 23.

The volunteer departure program is a “first step” to realign businesses within Amazon, the documents said, indicating that the divisions could face layoffs in the near future.

Amazon is encouraging employees to sign up for buyouts as CEO Andy Jassy ramps up efforts to rein in costs across the company.

This week, Amazon began what is expected to be the largest workforce reduction in its 28-year history as it faces a deteriorating economy and accounts for a workforce that exploded during the pandemic.

Dave Limp, Amazon’s hardware chief, said Wednesday that the company began laying off employees in its appliances and hardware unit. So far, workers in Amazon’s Alexa and Luna cloud gaming divisions appear to have been significantly affected by the job cuts.

Amazon is expected to cut as many as 10,000 jobs, though the total number remains variable as decisions are made on a company-by-company basis, a person familiar with the matter said.

The announcements of rolling layoffs, which are still ongoing, have left some employees within Amazon frustrated because the company has not yet issued a company-wide message about the job cuts, a person familiar with the matter previously told CNBC.

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