A woman working from home is stressed out by her children

Term-time only contracts: Amazon leads the way

Amazon has launched an innovative new contract that offers parents, grandparents and guardians of school-age children the choice to work term-time only.

The new contracts guarantee time off for the six-week summer break, as well as the two-week Easter and Christmas holiday periods, without affecting the range of benefits they receive, including private medical insurance and life assurance.

The contracts, aimed at better supporting family needs, were successfully trialled at three sites following employee feedback, and are now being phased in for employees across all Amazon’s fulfilment centres – the places where Amazon store, pick and pack items for sale. They will be rolled out to sort centres and delivery stations across the UK later this year.

Amazon also announced a new flexible part-time contract for a minimum of 80 hours a month, which lets employees pick and mix the shifts that suit their needs; part-day or full-day, day or night, weekday or weekend. The contract will support people who are unable to find work due to family or other commitments that require flexibility, return to the workplace.

Said John Boumphrey, Amazon’s UK Country Manager:

 “I’m delighted to announce these new flexible working initiatives that provide even more choice for current and future employees, enabling them to better manage their home and work commitments. Amazon already provides a four-day working week for our fulfilment centre employees in the UK, and term-time contracts are another great example of how we are using feedback from our people to support them with their childcare needs, giving families more time together. Providing a flexible part-time contract where people can pick the shifts that best suit their needs will support our employees’ partners and other job-seekers with family caring commitments a route back to the workplace, helping to boost household income.”

Marianna Desai, Regional Operations Director, said:

“We’ve listened to our employees’ views on flexible working and I’m really proud that we’ve introduced new and innovative options based on their feedback. Both of these contracts put a really important emphasis on work-life balance and I’m certain they’re going to make a positive difference for many of our people.”

 GRoW (Get Ready for Work) is a London-based organisation that supports women back into the workplace. Director Liz Sewell is particularly interested in term-time contracts: 

“Term-time working has the potential to give a lot of people the support they need so it’s an interesting and progressive change at Amazon. We know that many women want to work flexible hours and for those with younger children term-time working makes so much sense. We believe it’s a great way to support a widening of the workforce as well as providing valuable flexibility for parents.”

Speaking of the pros and cons of term-time only working, WorkNest said:

“For employees, the main advantage of a term-time contract is simple: it allows for better balance between work and childcare responsibilities. By only working during periods when their children are at school, parents can better separate their work life from their home life, enabling them to spend quality time with their children during the holidays and focus fully on their work during term time. Of course, this also saves employees from having to arrange childcare, which can be difficult and hugely expensive. These types of contracts are therefore a particularly attractive proposition for many job-seeking parents.

“But it’s not only staff who benefit from term-time only contracts; employers are also starting to recognise flexible working as a strategic necessity. Term-time only contracts, compressed hours, remote working or similar are no longer seen as a generous perk, with one survey revealing that 55% of people now expect flexibility when looking for a new job. Accordingly, business owners and HR professionals are now recognising the role of flexible contracts in attracting the right talent, increasing retention and improving their employer brand.

“In addition, term-time contracts can also reduce absenteeism. After all, when employees cannot balance their work and home commitments, they may need to take time off work, which can impede productivity and leave you scrambling to find cover. In some cases, introducing term-time contracts won’t cause much disruption at all. In fact, depending on the nature of the business, there may be seasonal variations in business demand, which could mean this arrangement works well.”