Amazon Cracking Down on In-Office Work
Workspan Daily
August 18, 2023

Amazon is the latest organization to issue a warning to its staff about in-office expectations, Bloomberg News reports.  

Amazon moved to a hybrid work model earlier this year and asked U.S. workers to be in the office three days per week. However, like many other companies that implemented return-to-office mandates, employees have resisted and remained on a mostly remote work schedule.  

Some U.S. employees at Amazon received an email this week stating that they are not meeting the company’s three-day-per-week expectation, Bloomberg reported.  

Zoom recently made waves by asking its employees within a commutable distance to return to the office two days per week. And companies from Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. to BlackRock Inc. have also increased the amount of time employees must come into work. 

Despite the end of pandemic-era lockdowns, many employees are reluctant to come back to the office full time. Office attendance has stabilized at 30% below pre-pandemic norms, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report last month. 

Hollywood Studios Offer Writers a New Deal With AI Assurances  

Hollywood studios have made a new offer to striking screenwriters that includes concessions on issues such as the use of artificial intelligence and access to viewer data, Bloomberg News reports.  

The Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, which represents big media companies such as Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. and Paramount Global, has agreed to ensure humans are credited as writers of screenplays, rather than replacing them with AI. The companies will also share data on the number of hours viewed on streaming services, so writers can see how popular their programs are, according to people familiar with the negotiations, Bloomberg reports.  

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger are reportedly two of the main driving forces on the studio side pushing for a deal to be reached.  

The Writers Guild of America, which represents some 11,500 scribes nationally, went on strike May 2, seeking higher pay and other changes to a contract they said hadn’t kept pace with the rise of streaming TV and other technologies. The strike, coupled with one by screen actors that began in July, has largely shut down production of new films and scripted TV shows. 

Other parts of the offer include a better-than-20% increase in residual payments made to writers when their shows appear on networks other than the original one they were made for, Bloomberg reports. They’ve also proposed salary increases and a minimum duration of work for writers in “mini-rooms,” where a smaller number of scribes work before a show is picked up or renewed. 

The studios are offering a 5% hike in base pay in the first year, an increase from their previous 4% offer. The writers have been asking for a 6% raise in the first year of the three-year contract. 

Google to Pay $8.4 Million in Overtime Settlement  

A federal judge signed off on an $8,369,000 settlement agreement between Google and 6,517 workers to resolve an overtime compensation lawsuit on Tuesday, HR Dive reports.   

The class action suit, originally filed in 2021, concerned violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), along with California state law. The two groups in the suit are the California class and the FLSA collective, including workers in and out of the state. 

The employees alleged that the company incorrectly calculated the regular rate of pay by excluding commission and stock unit payments, which led to an incorrect calculation of the overtime pay rate.  

Attorneys at Nichols Kaster, one of two firms representing plaintiffs in the cases, said this miscalculation “gave Google the benefit” of paying hourly employees at lower rates than required.  

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s decision comes after a March 2023 preliminary approval for the nearly $8.4 million settlement. 

World Bank Announces Commuting Incentives for Employees  

World Bank has asked its employees to return to the office four days a week beginning in September and is hoping to assuage employee resistance with a stipend for commuting and childcare, Bloomberg News reports

The bank, which is based in Washington D.C., said in its memo sent to employees that it was strategically starting the return-to-office mandate on Sept. 5 — after Labor Day weekend — in hopes that it will be less of a burden for employees with school-aged children.  

Under the new policy, World Bank will almost quadruple the Metro subsidy it provides to commuters working in its Washington headquarters to as much as $150 a month and cut the cost for using the institution’s childcare facility by 20%, Bloomberg reports.  

Employees in more than 100 other World Bank offices around the world will receive similar commuting support. 

“We need greater interaction, collaboration and physical proximity,” World Bank president Ajay Banga and top officials said in the memo. “It will require us to sit around a table, meet new people in the halls, brainstorm ideas over lunch and bond over a coffee.” 

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