Voluntary time off (VTO) is unpaid time off given by Amazon to warehouse associates who wish to leave work early or not come to work at all. It is available to full-time, flex, reduced-time and part time employees.
It is also available to associates who work in all kinds of Amazon warehousing facilities such as fulfilment centers, sort centers, delivery stations and Amazon Fresh warehouses.
Employees in higher positions such as area managers do not get VTO opportunities, however.
Why Does Amazon Give VTO?
VTO allows Amazon facilities to reduce labor costs, especially when there is low volume of work and/or there are too many associates working or scheduled to work for that day.
The amount of VTO given to associates varies from facility to facility. In some buildings, VTO is announced regularly due to low workload while in others, VTO is rarely offered due to being constantly busy or having too few associates.
VTO is also rarely announced during peak seasons such as holidays due to the increased workload.
How to Claim VTO
VTO notifications are first sent through email and/or text and then pushed to the A to Z app.
You can also use your scanner to claim VTO. The option to do this is under the FC menu that can be accessed when you’re logged in.
VTO openings are first come first serve and are claimed quite fast – sometimes within seconds of being announced!
Depending on the facility, VTO can be offered before the shift or a few hours into the shift. You don’t have to show up for work if it is announced pre-shift and you claim it. If it is offered during your shift and you claim it, it means that you get to leave early.
In some cases, managers can also verbally give out VTO without sending notifications first. They just have to scan the badges for those who agree to take it.
VTO opportunities are typically broadcasted to most associates at the facility, but sometimes you may get a targeted VTO notification from your area manager.
With targeted VTO, notifications are sent out only to specific people. This mostly happens when there are many associates and little work available in a particular department and managers want to VTO some of the employees in that department.
Additionally, associates who are close to some area managers may request to get targeted VTO opportunities from them in case they wish to take the day off, for example.
In such cases, the AMs will send out VTO notifications specifically to them before opening up opportunities to the rest of the associates.
Some associates may be exempted (or “blacklisted”) from getting VTO opportunities. Having a VTO exemption means that you will not get notifications for VTO whenever they are sent out to the rest of the associates.
Being cross-trained in multiple roles, maintaining high rates, working in a critical department (that also has few associates) such as problem solve, working in indirect roles such as waterspider and other factors may land you in a VTO exemption list.
Downsides of Claiming VTO
- The biggest con of taking VTO is the reduced paycheck. VTO is unpaid so the less hours you work, the less you get paid.
- Claiming VTO regularly also lowers your chances of getting promoted. While Amazon likes promoting from within, one of the conditions to moving up the ladder is showing dedication to the job as well as experience. Therefore, claiming too much VTO is not viewed favorably by the higherups.
Aside two downsides mentioned above, you won’t get into trouble for claiming VTO. Remember, there is no such thing as “too much VTO”. Managers offer it because they WANT you to take it. Likewise, saying no to VTO will not land you in trouble.
If you work less than the minimum number of hours required per week (e.g., 30 hours for FlexRT), and you have covered it with VTO, then you shouldn’t get any verbal or written warnings over it.
The notoriety of VTO among Amazon associates has resulted in lots of inside jokes and memes among employees and management alike.
In fact, you can even find said memes on t-shirts that Amazonians bring to work such as the ones below – and are sold on Amazon.