- A group of 1,800 working mothers employed by Amazon, referring to themselves as "Momazonians," is calling on the e-commerce company to consider backup day care benefits, according to a report by Bloomberg.
- According to an email reviewed by Bloomberg, the group has collected anecdotal evidence on how the lack of day care can hurt female workers' ability to advance in their careers. The group plans to meet with senior managers to discuss the issue and encourage Amazon's HR team to collect data about day care challenges, Bloomberg said, with backup child care being a particular pain point.
- In a statement to HR Dive, Amazon didn't respond directly to a question about the group of mothers, but did state that it offers memberships and discounts for childcare services, among other related benefits, including "flexible parental leave and health benefits starting on the first day of work." The company said it is always evaluating its benefits options; "When creating benefits, we focus on efforts that can scale to help the largest number of individuals, and work in partnership with our employees to ensure that what we are building offers meaningful support," it said.
Family-friendly benefits are gaining traction in the U.S., both at the level of individual companies and at the national level, which creates an incentive for employers to include such offerings for recruiting purposes. Per Bloomberg, Apple, Microsoft and Google are among the large tech companies that offer backup day care services and even some in retail, namely Starbucks, have also joined in on the trend.
Amazon is no stranger to pressure to improve the treatment of its employees and the benefits it offers them, having been the namesake of a U.S. Senate bill aimed at increasing taxes on companies whose employees relied on government assistance. In response, Amazon announced last year it would increase its hourly minimum wage for all full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary employees in the U.S. to $15 an hour, although it did say that increase would come at the cost of bonuses and stock options for hourly employees. U.S. workers at Amazon-owned Whole Foods saw cuts to hours, according to the Guardian, though they also were boosted to a $15 an hour rate.
Caregiving generally, whether for children or other family members, may prove to be an area of growth for employee benefits in 2019 as U.S. workers spend billions per year on caregiving costs alone. Certain vendors can step in to provide solutions for working caregivers, but childcare in particular has proven a pain point for employers. Some, like the state of Vermont, have attempted innovative scenarios like starting an "infants in the workplace" program.
Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has shown that family-friendly workforce policies could boost worker participation, particularly among men and women between the ages of 25 to 54. Childcare is closely tied to discussion about women's ability to participate in the workplace and advance their careers; previous reports have emphasized the presence of a "motherhood penalty," in which women in particular experience pay disparities should they decide to have a child.