Amazon / Unsplash

American multinational company Amazon has told managers that they can effectively fire employees who do not meet its three-times-a-week, return-to-office policy.

Business Insider revealed the news on Thursday, citing an updated global manager guidance document by Amazon.

The guidelines instruct managers to first hold a private conversation with employees who do not comply with the three-day requirement, after which the managers would then have to document the discussion in a follow-up email.

Should the employee continue to refuse to come in, then the manager must hold another meeting, and if needed, take disciplinary action. This includes a possible termination of employment.

Amazon, similar to other tech giants such as X (formerly Twitter), Google, and Zoom, has ordered its employees to return to the office. The return-to-office process, first announced in February, aims to do just that, encouraging more employees to make the transition following the pandemic. It requires them to be physically present at least three days per week.

The change was implemented from the start of May.

However, this was met by mixed reactions from its employees, with over 30,000 signing an internal petition and many others walking out earlier this year in frustration. Many have claimed that they were hired as fully remote workers during the pandemic.

In July, Amazon instructed remote employees to relocate near office hubs where most of their team members are, and those who refused to do so or find another team would need to take a “voluntary resignation” package. By September, Amazon was sharing individual attendance records with employees.

The updated guidelines said that if an employee does not demonstrate “immediate and sustained attendance” following the first meeting, managers need to conduct a follow-up discussion within a reasonable time frame to “reinforce the return to office three-plus days a week is a requirement of their job” and to “explain that continued non-compliance without a legitimate reason may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of their employment”.

Amazon spokesperson Rob Munoz told Business insider that the company is witnessing “more energy, connection, and collaboration”, with a “vast majority” of employees back in the office more frequently. He confirmed that the relocation policy is only affecting a “relatively small percentage” of the team, and exceptions will be made on a “case-by-case basis”.

“As is the case with any of our policies, we expect our team to follow them and will take appropriate action if someone chooses not to do that,” he continued.

The guidelines state that during the discussions, they need to reiterate many of the company’s public statements on its return-to-office policy, including the added support of “individual growth and development” and the fact that employees are “much more likely” to understand Amazon’s culture.

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