With its employment practices being called into question across Europe, online retail giant Amazon is hoping to curry favour with its UK workforce by offering low-paid staff monetary support towards their educations.
Amazon will offer up as much as £8,000 (£2,000 per year over four year courses) to employees in its eight giant UK warehouses that are looking to take on further education courses in construction, computer science, engineering and other vocational fields. Tuition fees and course books will be paid for in advance in a scheme that was first trialled in the US two years ago. The offer will be available to employees on permanent or fixed-term contracts, and can potentially cover as much as 95 per cent of a person's fees, to be paid back at a later date.
The scheme is designed to help Amazon's staff to more easily balance the decision between staying in work and funding a further education course, though members of the GMB union have claimed that the move is an attempt to shift the focus away from the company's reliance on low-paid staff, and its tax evasion methods. Amazon currently employs around 7,000 permanent members of staff and 1,450 temporary staff. [Guardian]