APG urges Amazon to be transparent on employee health and safety measures

Published on: 15 May 2020

APG, together with the New York City Comptroller and the New York City pension funds, calls on Amazon to report on the progress of initiatives to keep its employees safe in times of COVID-19. Whereas Amazon recently announced a multi-billion dollar spending package to protect its workers, the latter remain fearful about coming to work.


Reportedly over 50 Amazon facilities have confirmed cases of COVID-19, as hundreds of Amazon workers around the globe participate in protests, strikes, and petitions calling on the company to do more.


The New York City Comptroller (the city’s Chief Fiscal and Auditing Officer), the New York City Pension Funds, and APG, on behalf of its pension fund clients, sent a joint letter to Amazon, urging the company’s independent directors to be transparent about employee health and safety initiatives amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter requests that the Chair of the Committee responsible for overseeing employee health and safety, report on the progress of these initiatives and investments at the annual shareholder meeting on May 27, 2020.


Amazon recently disclosed its plans to spend approximately $4 billion (around € 3.7 billion) in the second quarter of 2020 on corona virus-related expenses, “including investments in personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning of [its] facilities, less efficient process paths that better allow for effective social distancing, higher wages for hourly teams, and hundreds of millions to develop [its] own COVID-19 testing capabilities.” However, media reports indicate that many Amazon employees remain fearful about coming to work and concerned for their own safety as well as that of their families, coworkers and customers.


“Keeping people safe and healthy should be the first priority of any company and the pandemic requires business leaders to take swift, effective measures to do just that,” says Anna Pot, Head of Responsible Investments Americas for APG. “While we welcome Amazon’s announcement to invest in protecting their sizeable front-line workforce from the spread of COVID-19, we want assurance that these investments actually lead to better outcomes for their employees – that they are safer and healthier as a result.”


The NYC Comptroller, the NYC Funds, and APG raise concerns about the potential disconnect between management’s reported employee initiatives and media reports on widespread health and safety concerns among Amazon employees, including reports that the company has retaliated against some employees and is pressuring sick employees to come to work. As of February 28, 2020, the New York City Pension Funds and APG have €3.9 billion invested in Amazon on a combined basis.


“Rather than reporting on inputs such as the number of masks provided or employees tested,” says Anna Pot, ”we are interested in the outcomes of these investments, such as trends in reported cases of corona virus among employees, days lost due to COVID-related illness, complaints filed, impact on productivity and employee morale and workplace culture.”


To read the full letter from The NYC Comptroller, NYC Funds, and APG, click here.