Amazon (AMZN -0.16%) wants warehouse workers who stayed home due to the COVID-19 pandemic to begin returning to work on May 1 or take a leave of absence. 

Since COVID-19 began spreading through the U.S. in March, the tech giant has offered unpaid time off to warehouse workers who didn't want to come in to work. Those who did show up got a $2 an hour increase in their income as hazard pay.

Masks hanging on boxes in a warehouse.


Amazon is now asking those warehouse workers to start showing up for scheduled shifts again in May, reports Bloomberg. Many had hoped to remain at home until the virus is contained and businesses begin opening again. 

In a blog late last week Amazon announced it's extending the $2 an hour raise through May 16. However, the tech giant didn't say if it will continue to offer unlimited unpaid time off. The leave will be available to full-time and part-time workers who have medical conditions, live with people who have health issues, or have no child care as schools remain closed. 

"We are providing flexibility with leave of absence options, including expanding the policy to cover COVID-19 circumstances, such as high-risk individuals or school closures," Amazon wrote in a blog post.  The eCommerce giant also said its extending double overtime pay in the U.S. and Canada through May 16. 

The move to bring warehouse workers back comes as Amazon has been contending with a huge surge in demand as people shelter at home and stores remain shuttered. That's resulted in Amazon hiring 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in March and announcing plans to hire an additional 75,000. It has also faced criticism from some workers it hasn't done enough to protect the safety of its frontline employees. Amazon has dismissed the allegations, arguing it has taken steps to protect employees including conducting temperature checks, distributing millions of masks to employees, and instituting social distancing rules, among other things.