Amazon blocks promotions for return-to-office violators

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Amazon is growing increasingly stern with its return-to-office mandate, and it’s now saying employee promotions may be on the line.

The tech giant told employees in February that they would be expected in the office three days a week, starting in May. It then brushed aside an employee walkout in late May protesting the requirement, telling Fortune at the time, “We’re always listening and will continue to do so, but we’re happy with how the first month of having more people back in the office has been.” 

Now, the company has added a new rule that promotions for employees who fail to work from the office three days a week will be blocked. Amazon spokesperson Rob Munoz told Fortune:

“Promotions are one of the many ways we support employees’ growth and development, and there are a variety of factors we consider when determining an employee’s readiness for the next level. Like any company, we expect employees who are being considered for promotion to be in compliance with company guidelines and policies.”

That’s bad news for some Amazon employees, thousands of whom earlier this year joined an internal Slack channel advocating for remote work.

The new rules require that promotions for employees who violate the mandate get approval from a vice president, per an internal announcement surfaced by Business Insider that reads:

“Managers own the promotion process, which means it is their responsibility to support your growth through regular conversations and stretch assignments, and to complete all required inputs for a promotion. If your role is expected to work from the office 3+ days a week and you are not in compliance, your manager will be made aware and VP approval will be required.”

It isn’t just promotions that might hinge on return-to-office adherence at Amazon. Being employed there at all might, too. Last month, Amazon managers received the green light to fire employees who ignored the return-to-office mandate. 

In contrast to Amazon, Nvidia, which sells AI chips and joined the ranks of companies with trillion-dollar market caps this year, has no problem with employees working from anywhere, even as it offers lavish offices in which to collaborate. 

But at Amazon, CEO Andy Jassy told employees during an internal Q&A session in August that it was “past the time to disagree and commit” with the RTO policy, warning those who refused that “it’s probably not going to work out for you at Amazon.”

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